Customised silicones provide easy to fit, comfortable and durable prosthetics material

Manufacturers of medical devices and prosthetic liners use soft silicones technologies in their products to improve patient care and comfort. 

When making prosthetic liners, for example, silicones are essential to create soft and flexible materials that can be rolled over the patient's residual limb for protection and allow the suspension of a prosthetic device. Liners control swelling, avoid skin abrasion and reduce the pain that amputees often experience. These features provide amputees with the flexibility they need to undertake a wide range of tasks, including small and precise movements. 

Development challenges
The key challenge in developing these devices is to select materials with two properties that are often incompatible: low durometer levels for comfort and optimal mechanical properties for durability. Customised silicones can overcome this trade-off by providing very soft and totally skin-friendly materials, still delivering high mechanical performance to make devices that are easy to fit, easy to clean and durable.

New and improved formulation
By identifying the advantages and disadvantages of silicones vs thermoplastics, materials commonly used in these applications, Elkem could pinpoint which improvements were needed in an innovative formulation.

The design of these new silicones products resulted in the launch of Silbione® LSR 4301 and 4305, with formulation, processing and application improvements that clearly make them better than standard silicones or thermoplastics for amputees wearing liners.

This article was first published in Elkem's sustainability magazine 2017.