8 August 2022

Disposable or reusable products in the medical sector

How disposable and reusable components can be combined in medical applications.

Whether in the medical or dental field or in home care, the question of reusability of medical devices always arises. Generally, there are two different options: reusable items, which are cleaned after use and in most cases sterilized, or disposable items, which are then discarded.

Before placing an order, the product manager of the finished medical device should decide which components and accessories should be procured as disposable or reusable products, while always taking into account risk management. The patient comes first, to whom the highest safety standards apply. In addition to safety, the focus is on cost, time and quality requirements for medical devices. In addition, easy handling of the products for users (usually medical staff) must be ensured. The goal here is to minimize the cost and effort of replacing and substituting the respective medical components after use.


Sustainability is required

A variety of disinfectants and cleaning agents are used in daily medical practice. These can affect the materials used in medical devices and accessories, such as a composite connector, in a variety of ways. Individual plastic components can become discolored, deformed by heat, crack and even break. Customers expect high-quality, resource-saving, durable and robust products that can be used in a wide range of applications, including endoscopy and robotics. In these areas, reusable products are often preferred due to the high cost of the enclosures, which means that a long service life must be guaranteed.

The ODU range of circular fittings includes many metal and plastic variants, which can be disinfected and sterilized – and are therefore extremely durable. In addition to the connector, the entire assembly can also be provided on request. For reusable products, a silicone overmold including a silicone cable is usually used.


Focus on cost efficiency and time savings

Especially in home care and in many areas of medical facilities, the trend is towards disposable products due to the additional costs of cleaning, sterilizing and repackaging reusable devices. By choosing one-off solutions, these extra expenses can be eliminated – such as the cost of acquiring an autoclave and the necessary disinfectants and sterile packaging materials. In the wake of the pandemic, it became necessary to deploy medical staff even more effectively. Disposable products were increasingly preferred to avoid time-consuming cleaning and preparation of reusable medical devices. From an ecological point of view, the use of disposable components should perhaps be reconsidered. However, it is often not possible to avoid them due to the respective requirements.

ODU offers ready-made disposable socket connectors as well as disposable plastic sleeves for such cases. These products can be flexibly combined with all ODU MEDI-SNAPÂź products, which are capable of up to 5,000 mating cycles.

The combination makes all the difference

Each medical device has different requirements in terms of safety, durability and cost structure. Already in the product development phase, the manufacturer must decide which components will be used as reusable or disposable products. In most cases, the solution is a combination of both – cost-effective single-use accessory products that still meet all hygiene and safety requirements, and durable medical devices, monitoring systems and robots that require extremely durable and robust components.


Meets the most stringent safety requirements

The Medical Device Regulation (MDR), which came into force on May 27, 2021, changed the requirements for manufacturers and distributors of medical devices. Adequate change management and appropriate risk management, as well as full product traceability, are among its focal points. As a supplier for medical applications, ODU supports its customers in meeting these requirements. In addition, the medical industry relies on the highest safety levels in accordance with IEC 60601-1 to ensure user and patient protection. In the event of a failure, full touch protection of both operator and patient is of particular importance. With specifications including up to 2 MOOP (Means of Operator Protection) and 2 MOPP (Means of Patient Protection), ODU’s range of circular connectors meet the highest safety standards.

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ODU Group: global representation with perfect connections
The ODU Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of connection systems, with 2,500 employees around the world. In addition to the company’s headquarters in Muehldorf a. Inn (Germany), ODU also has an international distribution network and production facilities in Sibiu/Romania, Shanghai/China and Tijuana/Mexico. ODU combines all relevant areas of expertise and key technologies including design and development, machine tools and special machine construction, injection, stamping, turning, surface technology, assembly and cable assembly. The ODU Group sells its products globally through its sales offices in China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Romania, Sweden, the UK and the USA, as well as through a number of international sales partners. ODU connectors ensure the reliable transmission of power, signals, data, and media for a variety of demanding applications, including medical technology, military and security, automotive, industrial electronics, and test and measurement.