Choosing a Suitable Material for Medical Garments
Medical garments aren’t just “apparel” – they’re a tool in an industry that saves lives on a daily basis. This is why, when choosing a suitable material for them, one should be careful and make sure that the material of choice can deliver, in terms of performance and safety, while still being affordable .
But when you’re talking about the medical industry, this is easier said than done. This is why we’ve decided to show you the key criteria to look out for when choosing the right materials for medical garments.
First and foremost, the chosen materials must be consistently available. If you don’t have sufficient quantities (for both current and future needs), both the time-to-market and the sales potential for garments will be highly impacted.
On that note, it’s a good idea to have the materials produced as close as possible to the garments’ manufacturing site. This will avoid (sometimes insanely) high shipping costs, and will significantly increase speed of delivery.
It should be noted, however, that availability varies significantly within a supply chain, which is why having a global manufacturing partner, and access to their infrastructure, might come in handy. These kinds of manufacturers will be able to provide access to a strong supply chain, with vendors that can be trusted, eliminating possible setbacks.
Cost per Unit
One thing to know about medical garments is that within the industry, you will need an incredibly high number of units. And to make sure you’re covered on that front, you’ll need to do more than just look at the price of a material. In fact,you’ll need to do a lot more in order to estimate the complete cost per unit during the garment’s lifecycle.
Different materials can have a varying impact on the cost per unit. Other things to consider are how much material you’ll need per garment and whether or not any other additions are needed (such as color, for example).
A strong emphasis should also be placed on the transport costs – heavier materials will cost much more to transport, and that has quite the impact on the overall cost per unit. This is especially important if you’re going to transport the materials over longer distances.
Compliance with Regulations
The medical industry is full of regulations, and many of them cover (in great detail) medical garments. There are exact specifications when it comes to the production of every single item, such as the EN 13795 and AAMI PB-70 Guidelines for resistance to liquid penetration, which our surgical gown abide by.
When it comes to the regulatory bodies, they tend to approve the finished products, rather than the specific materials being used. This is why a detailed file that explains every aspect of the garment can go a long way towards getting said approval.
Again, we circle back to the importance of global manufacturing partners who usually have a dedicated regulatory practice which helps quite a bit when the garments need to abide by specific regulations.
Some might think that performance is the absolute most important part of choosing the material, but within the medical industry there are a lot of formalities that need to be taken care of before you can even consider performance. But once you get those out of the way, the actual performance obviously still matters quite a bit.
For example, medical scrubs need to be anti-static, as well as being easy to wash and dry using high temperatures. They should also be sterilized with auto-clave, and it’s always good to have reusable items. Our medical scrubs, for example, can be reused up to 100 times and perform up to standard each time.
It is worth noting that some materials can abide by required performance standards by themselves, whereas others will require certain additions or reinforcement in order to meet these standards.
Another important aspect is biocompatibility, but in the case of medical garments, this is ultimately considered alongside the final product, and not just the material. Yet it is still worth mentioning that the choice of material can significantly impact the overall biocompatibility.
There are standards that detail the thorough characterization techniques for testing biocompatibility, and this can be a complex process which sometimes takes a while. Every misstep in the procedure can easily lead to a delay in the garments’ development cycle, which is why this is a process that must be carefully considered.
Last but certainly not least, medical garments should be functional, true, but they should also look good if possible. Of course, aesthetics are rather low on the list of priorities with so many standards and regulations that need to be taken care of, but if feasible , it should be considered nonetheless.