In the realm of medical technology, ensuring the safety and efficacy of devices is paramount. One key factor in achieving this is using appropriate materials that meet rigorous standards for biocompatibility and functionality. Parylene-coated cables, with their proven biocompatibility and unique physical properties, are increasingly favored in medical applications. Their use is particularly prominent in devices where compliance with health standards such as those enforced by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Biocompatibility and Practical Benefits of Parylene

Parylene, a versatile polymer, is renowned for its biocompatibility. It does not provoke a significant immune response when in contact with body tissues, making it ideal for medical devices. The FDA lists parylene among materials that typically do not require biocompatibility testing for specific applications. It highlights its well-established safety profile (see FDA’s biocompatibility guidance update: Biocompatibility Guidance Update: Certain Devices in Contact with Intact Skin).

Parylene with Silicone and Santoprene Cables

Parylene is commonly used with silicone cables in medical devices due to its ability to reduce the coefficient of friction. This reduction is crucial because it allows for easier and safer manipulation of cables within the body without causing trauma to surrounding tissues. Silicone, inherently flexible and durable, when coated with parylene, becomes even more effective in medical settings where ease of handling and minimal invasive impact are required.

Recently, parylene has also found increased application with Santoprene—an elastomer that combines the performance characteristics of rubber with the easy processing of thermoplastics. Parylene coating on Santoprene cables enhances their durability and reduces their frictional coefficient, similar to silicone. This makes Santoprene cables easier to handle and decreases wear and tear during use, particularly in dynamic medical applications requiring frequent equipment movement.

Overview of Parylene Types: C, N and Others

Each type of parylene—Parylene N, C, and D—offers distinct properties:

  • Parylene N is the original formulation known for its high dielectric strength and clarity. It also has the highest molecular activity, which can benefit specific applications.
  • Parylene C is perhaps the most widely used variant in the medical field due to its lower permeability to moisture and gases than Parylene N. This characteristic makes it highly effective in protecting electronic components from corrosion and degradation.
  • Other types, such as Parylene D, and variants, like Parylene HT, are used for specific applications that require higher temperature or UV stability.

Each type of parylene is chosen based on the specific requirements of the medical device and its intended use environment.

Considerations for Overmolding on Parylene Coated Cables

When incorporating parylene-coated cables into device designs, one crucial consideration is the process of overmolding. Overmolding involves adding a material layer over the parylene-coated cable to enhance ergonomic features or provide additional chemical resistance and mechanical protection. However, special care must be taken:

  1. Adhesion: Parylene is chemically inert, making it difficult for other materials to adhere to. Surface treatment techniques might be necessary to improve adhesion in the overmolding process.
  2. Temperature Sensitivity: The thermal properties of parylene must be considered, as the coating can degrade if exposed to high temperatures during the overmolding process.
  3. Compatibility: The material used for overmolding must be compatible with parylene to prevent the degradation of its protective properties and ensure the biocompatibility of the overall device.


Overall, Parylene-coated cables represent a significant advancement in medical device technology, offering unmatched durability, safety, and compliance with critical health standards. Their use in the medical field is set to grow as more manufacturers recognize their benefits and versatility in complex device architectures. As with all medical device components, careful consideration must be given to the choice of materials and manufacturing processes to ensure patient safety and device efficacy.

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