Wearables are the next frontier for medical and electronic device companies. The demand for consumer products to monitor fitness and personal health is on the rise. According to Accenture, the use of consumer wearable devices quadrupled in four years – going from 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018.
On the clinical side, wearable health technology such as EGG monitors, blood pressure monitors, and biosensors allow doctors to base decisions on real-time data, improve patient outcomes, and improve the efficiency of nurses and other medical staff.
The development of wearable devices comes with unique design and manufacturing challenges. Here are two things to consider when developing a wearable.
Skin is one of the most difficult surfaces for objects to stick to. This is good for our health but can be a challenge for a wearable that must adhere to the user. Oil, moisture, hair, stretching, and other factors must be considered early in the design process.
It’s not just a matter of how to stick material to skin – but how to do it gently and safely. Issues such as Medical Adhesive-Related Skin Injury (MARSI), skin allergies, and follicle inflammation must be avoided, especially in high-risk users such as babies, the elderly, and hospital patients.
The good news is that innovative adhesives are available that allow wearable devices to be effective while protecting the user’s skin. A few options include:
- Silicone adhesives – A soft, flexible, and skin-safe adhesive that provides immediate bonding strength
- Cyanoacrylate polymer – A durable, thin, breathable, and flexible film that protects skin even in challenging or wet conditions
- Alcohol-free barrier film – Helps reduce the risk of skin irritation when the device is removed
For a wearable to be useful and practical during real-world use, size is very important. The challenge is how to make a device smaller without limiting performance or sacrificing durability (if intended for long-term use). This is another area where the latest adhesives can improve the design and assembly of your wearable device.
Compared to mechanical fasteners, adhesives can be lighter, more durable, eliminate the need for drilling holes, simultaneously bond and seal surfaces, and improve appearance, among other benefits. In addition to design flexibility, adhesives can also reduce costs and improve assembly processes.
While adhesives offer major benefits for the wearable market, designers need to choose the appropriate adhesive for their unique application. That's where a materials expert like Tapecon comes in. We can provide recommendations for improving the performance and safety of your wearable device.
At Tapecon, we have over 100 years of experience helping customers solve their complex product challenges. Learn more about wearable skin tapes and patches applications.