Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How is Plastic Manufacturing Used for the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The pharmaceutical industry often requires precision parts, devices, and lab equipment made from materials with specific properties. Plastic manufacturing allows for the precision tolerances typically required while also allowing for other desirable characteristics such as optical clarity. Acrylic Art recently built an incubation chamber which serves as an excellent example of how plastic manufacturing is being used in the pharmaceutical and bio-tech industries.

An incubation chamber is a medical device that is used in antibiotic and pharmaceutical research and development. Biological incubation chambers are used for growing microbiological cultures or cell cultures. Because these cultures only grow under specific conditions, an incubation chamber must maintain the ideal temperature, humidity, and atmospheric conditions conducive to biological growth.

Plastic manufacturing techniques were used to create the pharmaceutical incubation chamber. For example, both CNC machining and plastic fabrication technologies were used. The acrylic incubation chamber began with a 2D blueprint. From there, plastic fabrication began with an emphasis on maintaining tolerances as high as (+/-) .010 of an inch. While many parts were fabricated using traditional techniques, latch mounting holes, grooves, intake and exhaust ports, and other components required CNC precision machining.

In addition to mounting hinges, door latches, and hardware, the incubation chamber was also outfitted with tray rails. This allows the incubator to accommodate several shelves for storing multiple petri dishes, much like a refrigerator has shelves to maximize storage space.

Clear acrylic plastic was used to create a see-through incubation chamber. Scientists and lab technicians can observe antibiotic cultures without having to open the incubator's door and risk adversely affecting the environment inside.

The incubator cube measured precisely 14 inches square, with varying thicknesses of acrylic ranging from .25", .50" to .75". The unit possessed flame polished edges and a clear finish designed for optimum optical clarity. The chamber also possessed tray rails, 6 draw latches, and intake and exhaust ports (as mentioned above).

The completed incubation chamber was delivered to a pharmaceutical facility much to the delight of the company that ordered it. Presumably, it is stocked full of cultures and actively helping researchers and developers carry out their important work.

Adrian Thomas has been an interior designer and architect for a number of years. Sources for this blog post can be found at

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