The Growth of the Medical Tyvek Industry

If you are looking for a material that has the resistance of film, malleability of plastic and it is printable almost as paper, then you are probably thinking about Tyvek®, a wonder material developed in the late 50’s by DuPont.

This is a synthetic product, which is lightweight, opaque, tear-resistant and was used in a wide range of applications from insulating houses to FedEx envelopes and even banknotes or work overalls because it retains its shape and it is spill-resistant.

Medical Tyvek® and Medical Tyvek Printers

The healthcare industry has a strict range of requirements and standards, including resistance to microbes and low contamination, sterilization capabilities, safe storage options, reliability and durability. Medical Tyvek®, which is the untreated variant and ends in letter “B” ticks all important characteristics of medical packaging design and medical priorities in the last 40 years:

 

  • Sterility maintenance until use
  • Barrier to microbial penetration
  • Resistance to physical damage
  • Provide for aseptic opening
  • Compatibility with sterilization processes
  • Ease of use by healthcare providers
  • Ease of manufacture
  • Regulatory compliance

 

Even more, Tyvek® is synthetic, unlike paper, which is made of wood pulp and can be a food source for microbes. The random orientation of its continuous, fine filaments means that its microbial barrier keeps out microbes and particulates better than other materials. With its porous structure, Tyvek® lets sterilization gases and steam in to do their job, and then quickly escape from the packaging.

Printing on Tyvek®

This material is versatile also regarding printing, but due to its synthetic nature it is not advisable to use high heat printing such as laser procedures or you will end up with a high service bill and no result, as it melts in the drums.  It works well with flexography on the smooth side, thermal transfer and, most convenient, some types of ink-jet. The producer states:

Printing on Tyvek® medical and pharmaceutical packaging styles can be done using standard commercial printing equipment and suitable inks. It is important to note that because of the unique requirements for pharmaceutical and medical packaging, these styles of Tyvek® have no antistatic coating or corona treatment. Therefore, special steps must be taken to obtain optimum printing results.

When looking further into the requirements of this material, it follows that there are cost-effective, unpretentious ways to use this material and print information on it. A manual by DuPont notes:

“Tyvek® can be ink-jet printed for addressing and bar coding. For optimum performance, solvent-, oil-and wax-based inks are recommended. Selected, pigmented water-based inks can provide satisfactory performance by using special settings. When doing high-quality graphics, an ink-jet coated Tyvek® must be used.

Conventional laser printing is not recommended on Tyvek® because of the temperatures involved in the printing units. For the same reason, Tyvek® should not be used in electrostatic copiers. However, Tyvek® can be used with the newer cold lasers (which generally have a fusing temperature below 200°F [93°C]).

Currently, we do not have a product that will work with a direct thermal printer. A product for this application is under development.

It is noteworthy that medical Tyvek® is suitable for variable information printing, such as batch, expiration date and quantity, thus making it a great material for drugs and medical use fluids.

We have discussed with the representative of a printing solutions company and asked what would be the expert’s advice for medical printing on Tyvek. The sales representative enforced that although as discussed, Tyvek® can be printed by a wide range of commercial solutions, in healthcare facilities it is advisable to choose specially designed equipment and inks. Doranix’s Medical Tyvek Printers offer great accuracy, especially regarding sensitive items such as barcodes, QR codes and similar information which can be considered vital for treatment and any mistake could be lethal.

Doranix’s printers can be seen below.