The Questions We Don’t Answer

headshot1bwAs a company committed to being a resource the industries we serve, it is in our nature to answer questions about products, processes and technologies. But, we recognize that we work with the brightest, most creative people, throughout the world, and sometimes the person on the other end of the phone is more qualified to answer the question than we are! While we work hard to grow our industry and product knowledge, we often find that we are Jacks of all trades and masters of none. And to be honest, we’re ok with that.

Between our diverse customer base - researchers in the medical, aerospace, analytical sciences, and chemical sciences fields –  and our range of materials – from PTFE to stainless steel and nitinol – there is a limit to our knowledge.

Recently I had a customer who purchased our blunt needles and was testing a consistent engagement of the male Luer on the syringe and female Luer to ensure the product met a standard they kept. This test is conducted by a five Newton weight to answer the question: “What is the allowable tolerance on the weight?” Unfortunately, we couldn’t answer this question for two reasons. First, we do not supply the weights for testing, so we don’t have any information about them. Second, because our needles have various applications – dispensing epoxy in a manufacturing assembly line, dispensing chemicals in pharmaceuticals or collecting samples for analytical science experiments – it is hard to know every standard out there. It’s not that we don’t have a desire to. There is just simply more knowledge out there than we have acquired, even after decades of working with these products and in these industries.

So, please ask us questions. If we don’t know the answer, we will let you know or we will try and find it. Also, if we don’t know the answer and you find it somewhere else, please take the time the share it with us. Admittedly, the question about the acceptable tolerance on the five Newton weight has only been asked once in the 20 years I’ve been doing this. But, if that time has taught me anything, it’s that if one person is asking about it, someday, someone else will. And next time, we’ve like to have the answer.

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Bending Hypodermic Tubing

headshot1bwLet’s face it, bending a thin, little, hollow tube that’s smaller than a 1/16” diameter takes virtually no effort at all. The rub comes when you still want to be able to pass a gas or a liquid through that tube after it is bent.

Here’s the problem: Even though stainless steel hypodermic tubing is a full hard tube, when you get down into the very small ODs like 0.013”- .032” the tubes do not have enough tensile strength to remain at the radius they are formed. They spring back and you wind up having to bend them at a much smaller radius than your finished radius, thereby compounding your problems.

So, to start mitigating this problem, you need to address these three questions. How big? How steep? How long?


How big (or small) is the OD and ID of the tube I need to bend? Generally speaking, the larger the diameter, the easier the tube is to bend. However, the thinner the wall, the more likely the tube wall is to collapse while being bent.

How steep of a angle do I need to bend? Obviously the greater the angle of bend, the more difficulty you will have in maintaining the wall integrity. We recently did a job for a customer who needed a 135° bend (in essence a V shape.) In this job the issue was not how to maintain the tubes ID, but how to minimize and control the collapse of the tube walls during the bending process.

How long can the radius be? The compression / tension forces on the tube walls are exponentially reduced as the radius increases. So your success rate will significantly increase as the radius increases.

So, before you design your next project incorporating some little innocuous bent hypodermic tubing consider these three very inter-related issues, and if there’s anything we can do to assist your process, please contact us:

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We Won’t Let The Project Die

headshot1bwIn the early phases of research and development for a product, there are always questions and ideas to be tested. Sometimes it’s a question of size: do you need 3/16” inside diameter or 1/4” inside diameter? Once you’ve determined the correct diameter and there are at least two different wall thicknesses of each size, which one is best for your application? Maybe you aren’t sure if a 0.012” or 0.011″ diameter mandrel would be best? Or what about a PTFE coated mandrel? Sometimes it’s a material question: should you use silicone or one of the Tygon tubing options? And if you go with Tygon, which formulation is best?

Often the answers are only discovered through testing. Sadly, purchasing each individual product or small quantities of material for testing is so expensive that some projects die before they ever really get off the ground. Custom fabricated parts experience this problem even more often. The cost to have a part fabricated just to see if the idea was worth pursuing is often high enough to bring the entire project to a halt.

The thought of any project dying so early in the process is unacceptable to us. So at Component Supply, we’ve made a commitment to research and development. Because we take our specific role in the development of products seriously, we support our commitment in two ways. First, we supply our standard materials in very small quantities and have no minimum order requirements. We want researchers and product developers to test a variety of products in a cost-efficient way so they can make the best decisions to keep their project moving. Second, with our custom fabrication services, we look at the ideas people have, make very small runs with the lowest minimums available and try to deliver in days, not weeks.

We don’t want to see projects tabled or canceled just because it was too expensive to experiment with parts or modifications. Researchers should be able to test components with quality and efficiencies in mind while staying within their budget. We do everything we can do to make their projects run smoothly or improve their design tests knowing it ultimately impacts someone’s life or standard of living. At Component Supply, we operate our business to do our best to make sure we never let a project die.

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New Luer Stopcock Design

This gallery contains 3 photos.

We have recently had a design change to our Luer stopcocks. While this sleek design is consistent with the look and functionality of today’s fittings and valves, probably half the users will like them and the other half will hate … Continue reading

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One Reason We Answer Our Phones

Last week I received a phone call from a customer who wanted to use our push to connect fittings in a standard pneumatic application. However, he was confused because the description on our website said the fittings were not recommended for pressure or vacuum applications. If these fittings weren’t appropriate for nylon and polyurethane fractional pneumatic tubing as our description suggested, that left only cosmetic uses. Nothing against these fittings, but they’re not attractive enough to be used for cosmetics.

While we are really proud of the work we have done with our content to make it useful and relevant for our customers, sometimes we just miss something. These fittings can be used for pressure or vacuum applications, and I can’t tell you how that inaccurate statement made it to our website. I am so thankful for customers that are willing to call and ask questions about our products and what we do. We like talking to them, and we have a growing knowledge about what we supply and how we can customize products. Not often, but sometimes we get it wrong and need our customers to let us know. So, if you see something that doesn’t make sense, we hope you’ll give us a call.


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PTFE Burst Pressure Theoretical Formula

PTFE burst pressure formua

The innate strength of fluoropolymers makes them an ideal choice for high pressure tubing components. But many factors play a part in the actual pressures that are specific to various applications. For this reason, Component Supply does not list a burst pressure rating for our fluoropolymer tubing products. This is a theoretical formula that can be used to yield the maximum burst pressure. We provide this theoretical formula as a reference to give engineers and researchers a place to start their testing. But it is the end user’s responsibility to safely test all products and Component Supply assumes no responsibility in applications putting these products under pressure.

**Please note that the equation provided is theoretical. It does not take into account certain factors such as steam pressure, temperature (calculated at room temperature), altitude and others. The result is only to be used as a guideline for design and testing purposes. It is not meant to yield a definitive number. Testing will be required to determine accurate and safe pressure limits**

    Tensile Strengths

  • PTFE – 2,500 psi
  • FEP – 3,000 psi
  • PFA – 4,000 psi
  • ETFE – 6,500 psi
  • PEEK – 13,000 psi

The Theoretical Burst Pressure equation can be used to solve for either pressure (P) or tensile strength (T), depending on what information you have available. If you know what material your tubing is, then you can calculate the burst pressure (P) of this tubing. If you are trying to decide what type of tubing you need and have the specific burst pressure (P) rating your application requires, you can use the desired burst pressure (P) and calculate a theoretical tensile strength (T) that can guide you to a material to start your testing.

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We posted a customer question not long ago concerning some shrink tubing. In my conversation with the customer I realized he was not using the tubing for its typical application. We love that we supply material to people who aren’t afraid to try new things. But sometimes that means that we simply don’t have the answer. Sometimes it just has to be tested. Sometimes it just isn’t going to work. Like, at all.

We have a hashtag that we use on social media when sharing the new ideas we’ve been working on with customers. #ItDidntBreak. We laugh because it’s not uncommon to hear the words “Well, that broke” or “I guess that was bad idea” coming out of our shop. In the case of the shrink tubing customer, I had to tell him that he was just going to have to test it and see what happens. While we want everyone to be safe while they are working, we still want to encourage people to keep testing, researching and developing. Keep asking us questions and we will keep trying to find answers for you.  Or, at least, keep breaking things in the process.

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Change the World

headshot1bwWhen we say “change the world,” we really mean it. It’s not just some inspirational cliché to us. Our customers develop products and technologies that save or improve the lives of people every day. Hundreds of patients are alive today, and thousands have a better life, because of the work we do to advance a technology, device or apparatus. In most cases, we don’t get to meet the patients. They go through a surgery or some medical procedure, and they never know that what we did made their recovery faster or less painful or even possible in the first place. They will never know that we played a role – as small as it was – in what changed their life. And they shouldn’t. They have more pressing things to consider than the work researchers and developers went through to make it a success. But their world was changed. There are people walking and talking and writing and hearing and seeing and breathing because of the work we do at Component Supply. We can say with complete confidence that we have “changed the world” before. While we may not change the whole course of history for all mankind, there are people alive and healthy because of who we work with and the work we have done. That inspires us to continue to change the world. Even if it is just for one more person.

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PTFE/FEP Dual Shrink sterilization question

A customer working with both hypodermic tubing and PTFE/FEP Dual Shrink tubing asked about gas sterilization of the assembly he is making. He was working with two different sizes of hypodermic tubing, the smallest being our 30 gauge, which has an outside diameter of around 0.008″. The Dual Shrink he was using was our part number SMDT-063, which has a recovered inside diameter of 0.00″, and he was recovering short pieces of this tubing and adhering it to both sizes of hypodermic tubing. He is using ethylene gas and the stainless steel hypodermic tubing, the PTFE and the FEP can all be EtO sterilized. So here’s his question: Will the shrink tubing stay adhered to the hypodermic tubing after going through sterilization? Good question!

I responded to him and let him know that both the shrink tubing and hypodermic tubing can be EtO sterilized. But because we never had a situation where we had to test this, we just didn’t have the answer for him. Hopefully he will test this and let us know the outcome. We hope people like him continue to ask us questions. We may not always have the answer, but we always want to try and be a resource for our customers.

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My Desk At Component Supply

_MG_0533_bwOther than a muddled mess of notebooks, multi-colored dry-erase markers and any remnants from my colleagues’ latest donut purchase, only two items have made my desk their permanent home: two pieces of welded hypodermic tubing. They weren’t left carelessly by the custom fab shop, and they don’t serve any practical function in my work space. No, those pieces of metal are the souvenirs from my first day of work at Component Supply.

When I rode down to work for the first time, I had no idea what I was getting into here. However, the people were friendly and the work was intriguing, so I was willing to get my feet wet. Only there was no “getting my feet wet” at Component Supply. When I first walked into the shop, Mark handed me a pair of safety glasses, and Jeff sat me down at a welding machine with some hypodermic tubing and taught me how to weld two pieces of metal together. I’m sure I did all sorts of wrong to that poor welding machine. I don’t have Jeff’s gentle touch with machinery. Nevertheless, I welded that tubing. It wasn’t pretty, but it was my work and I was proud of it. Jeff then went on to do what I did, only much better and in much less time. I looked at the two pieces together and there was no doubt about the creator of each piece. I made some self-deprecating comment about how hopeless my welding job was compared to Jeff’s. Then Mark grabbed the result of my shoddy craftsmanship from my hands and took it over to some other machines. A couple minutes later, he brought back my welding project all smooth, shiny and polished. You can still see a difference between my work and Jeff’s, but the discrepancy seems much less obvious than it did at first.

Now I keep both pieces of hypodermic tubing on my desk to remind me of two things. First, it’s ok to take a risk and try something new. I didn’t know much about the processes of our shop when I stepped into it the first time. But, Jeff and Mark, without hesitation, let me try my hand at those processes anyway, reminding me it was ok to fail as long as I kept trying. Second, at Component Supply our team can take your original idea and make it even better. It’s just how we operate. Sometimes you create a plan and try to execute it, but your idea just doesn’t manifest itself the way you had hoped. Our team at Component Supply can take your idea, even one you thought was hopeless, and return it to you, smooth, shiny and polished. We see the potential in our researchers and product designers, and if there’s any way we can make your idea even better, we work with you to make it happen.

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