When selecting a pressure-sensitive adhesive for stick-to-skin applications, product designers seek to balance adhesion with breathability, conformability, and removability. Some applications require short-term wear adhesives that can stay bonded to the body for a few minutes up to a few days. Other applications require long-term adhesion to a patient’s skin—securing a device or patch to the body for up to 21 days.
This post highlights some different applications for short- and long-term wear adhesives and (more importantly) examines what design engineers need to consider when selecting carriers and adhesives for on-body applications
Two key factors to consider when selecting an adhesive for a stick-to-skin application are coat weight and peel adhesion.
As a general rule, short-term wear applications are those in which the adhesive must stay attached to the skin for a few minutes up to several (2-4) days. A good example would be an ECG electrode that needs to stay secured to a patient’s chest for two to five hours during a nuclear stress test. For this application, the tape keeps the monitor attached to the skin and is designed to be easily removed once testing is complete.
Other example applications for short term wear adhesives include:
As with industrial tapes, medical tapes consist of some combination of a carrier and an adhesive. Typically, a polyurethane, PET nonwoven, polyurethane nonwoven, or PE foam will act as a carrier for short-term wear applications.
On the adhesive side, there are several things to take into consideration including:
Some devices need to stay comfortably attached to the skin for more than five days. These long-term wear applications require medical-grade pressure-sensitive adhesives that offer higher adhesion to the skin over time. For example, a continuous glucose monitor must stay securely attached to a patient for days at a time, whether they are running, bathing, or sleeping.
Other example applications include:
When deciding which stick-to-skin adhesive tape to use on a long-term wear application, it is important to consider the desired wear time, the material stack, and the device weight and design, as well as the placement on the body.
Knowing more about the application and its intended use helps us determine which materials should be considered for the application. For instance, some long-term wear applications only require one adhesive tape layer and need a carrier that can be heat or ultrasonically welded to. This limits the carrier options. Other wearable device applications use multiple adhesive tape layers to sandwich components together and stick to the skin. This type of application may utilize several adhesive tape products including a PET nonwoven tape layer, a transfer or double-coated tape layer, as well as an overlay layer that could be another PET nonwoven layer or a polyurethane nonwoven or foam.
Here are some additional things to take into consideration when selecting long-term wear adhesives:
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We work with customers from early-stage design through high-volume production, providing value-added value engineering solutions throughout the project lifecycle. Contact us today to learn how we can help you improve quality, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.