How medical devices are harmonising with nature


Bioplastics are made from organics, such as renewable materials like starch, unlike the usual plastics we come across which are often made from petroleum. Since they are renewable, these are considered sustainable materials, which are rapidly emerging in all kinds of products and innovations, like product packaging (which we might see on our supermarket shelves one day!).

Bioplastics are now showing their potential use in medical devices. One leading innovator is Professor Andrew Dove (University of Birmingham) who won the Royal Society of Chemisty’s Normal Heatley Award for his work in degradable biomaterials for medical applications. Along with Prof. Dove’s developments in biomaterials, we may see more of these innovations being utilised in medical applications, like medicine caps and closures.

When a material is considered biomaterial compatible, the materials sync well with the natural world. Parx Plastics are producers of antimicrobial plastics and polymers, with designs inspired by natural forms.

This creation of products inspired by natural structures is called biomimicry. Nature has its own structures which are effective for providing certain functions, such as waterproof structures on certain leaves, which could be replicated (or mimicked) to create our own waterproof materials (like for a rain jacket).

The Biomimicry Institute shares real-world examples on creations inspired by biomimicry, while supporting sustainable innovators who aim to achieve harmony with nature through their creations.

Discussing biomimicry, and achieving harmony with nature may seem to contrast against the growing mechanisation and computerisations of our modern world, whether we are in the retail, or healthcare industry.

In the medical world, we are seeing the rise of medical technologies, such as wearable sensing devices, which can allow us to monitor our health ourselves, or be monitored remotely by a doctor.

While this has its own advantages for a range of medical conditions we may have, there are additional concerns about the compatibility of these devices with our bodies, and with data security, to name a few. We discuss these concerns further here.

Though maybe retaining a balance with nature, such as through biomimicry, some of these darker aspects and concerns with advancing medical devices, can be somewhat addressed.

The good news is, that in the medical world, innovators are realising the importance of retaining some balance with nature, not only for sustainability, but for their effectiveness in being compatible with the body.