Strengthening of systems business for mechanically and hygienically demanding applications

Friesoythe – Leoni, the leading European provider of cables and cable systems to the automotive sector and other industries, has enhanced its expertise in the manufacture of overmoulded connections for medical equipment. In both high and low pressure processes, Business Unit Healthcare overmoulds thermoplastic and elastomer plastics; for example, two-component injection moulding of liquid silicone rubber (LSR). The company’s technology park was recently extended with additional production lines at its various manufacturing facilities. Leoni has thereby strengthened its systems business and is meeting the growing demand for ready-to-connect, thermally and mechanically stable as well as pressure-sealed solutions for medical technology applications.

In its production of cable systems for medical technology, Leoni uses various semi-automatic injection and overmoulding techniques to process thermoplastics, thermoplastic elastomers and LSR. In addition to the injection moulding machines at various of its production facilities, Business Unit Healthcare can draw upon a broad range of special hot-melt devices. The preferred material for overmoulded connectors, grommets and v-splitters for endoscopy systems is LSR. Combined with an LSR cable jacket, Leoni supplies flexible, gastight and autoclavable systems.

“We aim to offer our customers more overmoulded components in our ready-to-install systems solutions,” Siemen-Jannes Meinders, Head of Leoni’s Business Unit Healthcare, said in explaining the investment in more semi-automatic plant. “As a systems supplier, we focus on customised solutions for specific requirements, and do so starting from small lot sizes. That calls for a broad range of technologies and know-how.”

Leoni develops application-optimised component geometries and the necessary tools. Which processes and materials are deployed will depend on the application of the overmoulded components. The materials of the cable jacket and the overmoulding will normally match in order to achieve a good connection. Alongside silicone, Leoni also processes such other biocompatible materials as FEP, ETFE and TPU for near-patient applications. For mechanically demanding applications in device wiring, Leoni overmoulds its cables located outside or inside with such technical plastics as thermoplastics or thermoplastic elastomers, or overmoulds electronic components with (thermoplastic) thermal fusion adhesives. A further shield is added if required. Leoni can also overmould plastics that are up to 30 % glass fiber-strengthened in a high pressure process.

Leoni product examples

Having broadened its production technologies, Leoni now makes not only endoscopy systems that prevent formation of hazardous biofilms by avoiding grooves and crevices in the crossovers. The cable specialist’s overmoulded solutions are also found in many other applications: for instance, alongside a grommet with bracket for a Brainlab surgical navigation system, Leoni has already developed various sealing bulkhead receptacles and manual switch grommets for imaging devices. Further examples of overmoulded solutions include a flexible Cat 5e lead with an angled grommet and coiled cable as well as an overmoulded connector on a drag chain compatible HDMI cable for mechanically demanding applications in tightest of installation space. Not least and in addition to antimicrobial cables, Leoni also provides overmoulded components with an antimicrobial surface.