Medical Paper Vs. Tyvek – Which is Better?
For the production of medical packaging, there are really only two options – medical paper, or Tyvek. Yet even a cursory comparison reveals that Tyvek, in almost every respect that matters, is far superior to medical paper.
Amongst the advantages of Tyvek for medical applications are the fact that it offers greater microbial penetration resistance than medical paper, has greater tear strength, is more resistant to punctures, and offers clean peel. In addition, Tyvek is compatible with all of the most commonly used sterilization procedures, unlike medical paper.
These advantages are a direct consequence of the way in which Tyvek is made. Whilst superficially similar to paper, Tyvek is actually made of spundbound Olefin fibers, each between 0.5-10 µm in width, which are compressed and heated in order to bond them together. This construction technique gives Tyvek its great strength, and also makes it totally waterproof.
Tyvek offers the following advantages over medical paper:
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when choosing a material for medical packaging is the degree to which it resists microbial penetration. Ideally, the packaging used for medical devices should allow the devices to stay sterile from the point of sterilization until the package is opened.
Tyvek, in every test conducted to date, resists microbial penetration better than medical paper, and in fact any other material used for medical packaging. Further, these tests indicate that Tyvek is able to maintain sterility for up to 5 years if packaging is not damaged.
Tear Strength and Puncture Resistance
Medical packaging sometimes has to deal with quite harsh environments. It should be able to maintain its integrity during rough handling, and also retain strength when wet.
Tyvek performs better than all grades of medical paper when it comes to these tests. It offers greater resistance to tearing and puncturing than paper, and retains all of its strength when wet. In addition, the fact that Tyvek is puncture resistant means that even if a package is slightly damaged, it will not tear open further.
When printing on Tyvek as opposed to medical paper, one of its huge advantages is its resistance to breakage. Test after test has shown that under stress, Tyvek is much stronger than medical paper.
This attribute is espcially useful for printers, because it reduces the downtime caused by material breakages during the printing process. Tyvek rolls are commonly fed through industrial printers for hours without significant problems.
Tyvek is very resistant to water damage, in distinct contrast to most forms of medical paper. In fact, when water comes into contact with Tyvek it neither soaks in nor spread across the surface, instead remaining as droplets.
Another advantage of this water resistance is that certain forms of sterilization process – namely those based on ethylene oxide – use water as a medium in the process. Since paper absorbs water, it reduces the efficacy of this technique, whereas there is no such problem with Tyvek.
Overall, Tyvek is by far the better medium for medical packaging, offering greater microbial penetration resistance than medical paper, greater tear strength, and more resistance to punctures. In addition, Tyvek is compatible with all of the most commonly used sterilization procedures, unlike medical paper.
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