Endoscopic surgical instrument insertion and retraction through a seal must feel smooth and easy. The more the material “grabs” and adheres to the shaft of the instrument, the more force it will take to manipulate the instrument (not something you want to experience even if you are under anesthesia). A new process, known as F-treat, promises to reduce friction and deliver a permanent low coefficient of friction surface that will not dissipate with wear. Unlike topical modifications that can be washed or worn away, F-treat is a modification of a compound so that if abrasion or wear occurs, a low friction surface will always be present.
Surgeons report that medical devices such as endoscopes with the F-treated seals respond better to their touch than non-treated elastomer seals. Medical product designers claim custom F-treated seals improve nasal and liposuction canula.
Laboratory studies of a broad range of elastomer materials show the reduction of coefficient of friction of F-treated molded components. Since the modification occurs as a reaction with the polymer, the most dramatic improvement is seen with low hardness, polymer-rich elastomers such as a 55 Shore A compound.
Minnesota Rubber and Plastics