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Q: How are catheters typically manufactured?

A: A medical catheter is manufactured in a clean room environment using precision medical grade extrusion equipment. Plastic pellets are fed into a hopper. The pellets enter a screw head where they are pressurized and melted. The screw head drives the molten material forward into the extrusion die that contains the shape of the internal and external tube profiles. Air and vacuum chambers are often used to assist in the flow of the material as it leaves the die. A puller then moves the material forward so it can momentarily air cool until it enters the water bath which finishes the cooling process. A tubes profile when it leaves the die is larger than the desired finished catheter. The material naturally stretches as it cools and is pulled. This 'drawn down' process will result in the desired end catheter size and diameter. Inline automated inspection equipment verifies the products dimensional characteristics and then the tubes are cut to length for annealing, secondary operations or direct packaging.

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