Biocompatible materials are materials that are compatible “with living tissue or a living system by not being toxic, injurious, or physiologically reactive and not causing immunological rejection” (Source). Simply put, these fabrics should be able to work comfortably alongside a biological system – such as the human body – to aid in improving the quality of life without negative side effects or permanent damage to the life form. In terms of shopping the market for biocompatible fabrics, you need a fabric that can rest comfortably against the skin and hold all necessary technology at the same time. The study of biocompatibility has been present in the science field for around 50 years, and is recently making surges in the medical field – specifically in non-invasive, surface, and day-to-day therapies – due to the recent boom in wearable medical devices.
Wearable medical devices have been making waves in the medical field, and are continuing to develop and revolutionize the way we are able to treat and diagnose patients. Biocompatibility is one of the most important and closely studied features of any medical device; if created without biocompatibility in mind, it could have negative effects on the user. There are two main types of reactions that someone can have while using a device or wearable: irritation and sensitization. Irritation is the immediate bodily response to a single use of the device; for example, a rash or hives. Sensitization is a toxic reaction after repeated or prolonged use of the device or medical wearable. This can, at times, be overlooked due to the non-localized nature of the sensitization (Source).
Both of these reactions can be brought on when incorrect fabric is used. As a contract sewer with experience working with biocompatible fabrics, we know the most comfortable and movable fabrics that won’t impair your performance while wearing the device. Lycra is a synthetic fiber that is light, durable, and has high elasticity. Most often used for athletic wear, leggings, and bodysuits, lycra is a spandex alternative that we regularly work with to produce bio-therapy vests. Another biocompatible fabric is neoprene, which is crafted from synthetic rubbers and maintains its flexibility regardless of environment. Neoprene is slightly thicker than lycra, making it more insulating and durable while maintaining the same stretch.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards play a part in regulating and assessing biocompatibility in a medical device from surface (this is a wearable medical device for day-to-day use). Wearable medical devices each have their own biocompatibility standards, especially depending on what the device is meant to treat or diagnose. For example, an item that uses a smart textile equipped with conductive wires is different than a medical vest fixed with electrochemical sensors. In either case, the electronics of the wearable need to be isolated and comfortable enough within the biocompatible fabric so as not to have negative effects on the human biology.
The market for biocompatible fabrics will undoubtedly continue to grow. It has become a crucial feature in both wearable technology and the development of smart athletic wear, and is hailed as the future of treatment and diagnosis in the medical field. Biocompatibility will play a major role in protection during treatment.