Secure biomedical sensors with medical fixation tape and reduce errors

As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands into medical devices, the number and variety of biometric sensors that must be attached to human skin is increasing. The data collected is used to monitor and diagnose medical conditions, as well as to study and improve the performance of professional athletes and commercial home-based personal exercise programs.

Author: Bill Giovino

As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands into medical devices, the number and variety of biometric sensors that must be attached to human skin is increasing. The data collected is used to monitor and diagnose medical conditions, as well as to study and improve the performance of professional athletes and commercial home-based personal exercise programs.

While specially manufactured medical fixation tapes are often used to hold sensors in place, these fixation tapes are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, factors such as comfort, air and moisture permeability, and resistance to liquids must be considered, adding to the complexity of tape selection. Additionally, in some applications, the tape must be quickly and easily removed and reapplied to the skin to reposition the sensor, which can be important in an emergency. What is needed is a variety of medical tapes that are easily distinguishable so that they can be applied to the appropriate situation.

This article describes 3M’s line of medical tapes designed for different human skin attachment situations. The article explains what four 3M medical tapes are used for and how they address specific medical fixation applications. The article also discusses the benefits of standardizing on a family of medical tapes, including simplified procurement, uniform documentation, and ease of use.

Application of Medical Fixing Tape

Just as the availability and wide selectivity of environmental sensors has spurred the growth of the commercial Internet of Things as well as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the availability and diversity of biometric sensors is enabling new medical sensing devices, including medical IoT devices. Consumer biometric sensing products like smartwatches with heartbeat monitors can be easily strapped to the wrist, while consumer heart monitors can be strapped to a person’s chest to provide better so-called accuracy. This increased accuracy is due not only to the use of more precise sensors, but also to the safe placement of the heart monitor on the heart. The accuracy of biometric sensor data is directly related to the sensor type and appropriate location on the skin.

However, for medical-grade biometric sensing applications, many sensors must be attached in locations that cannot be secured with simple straps. In addition, they may also need to bind more tightly and securely to the skin surface for reliable biometric readings. This requires the use of medical fixative tape to keep the sensor in place. As shown in Figure 1, most medical fixation tapes consist of a printable and writable substrate as the tape itself, an adhesive used to apply the tape to the skin, and a peelable liner that peels away to reveal the adhesive. material composition.

Secure biomedical sensors with medical fixation tape and reduce errors
Figure 1: Medical fixation tapes typically consist of a substrate (top layer) and adhesive (middle). A liner (base layer) protects the adhesive and can be peeled off when ready to use. (Image credit: 3M Medical Materials)

In the construction of medical tape, the choice of substrate and adhesive determines its use characteristics. Medical fixation tapes vary, and the proper selection and use of medical fixation tapes requires some ergonomic considerations. These combined factors determine the construction of the tape substrate and the choice of adhesive used.

Ergonomic principles of medical fixation tape

An important consideration is fluid resistance. In long-term use, medical fixation tape may become wet due to frequent cleaning of the area or in the shower, resulting in a lack of stickiness and unreliable sensor readings. If resistance to liquids is a requirement, this usually involves the use of tape substrates made of polyethylene and acrylic-based medical adhesives. This construction is not only resistant to liquids, but also prevents water vapor (such as in hot showers or high humidity areas) from penetrating into the tape.

An additional requirement for liquid resistance is the typical moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) of the tape. MVTR is usually specified in grams per square meter (gm/m2) to specify the amount of moisture that is allowed to pass through a material in a 24-hour period. While in some cases no liquid or water vapor is allowed to pass through the tape (MVTR = ~0), in other cases it may be necessary to allow moisture, such as sweat, to pass through the tape. In the latter, the non-woven tape substrate allows the skin to breathe and sweat to evaporate.

In some use cases, the tape must be easily repositioned so that the sensor can be quickly repositioned or allow limited multiple uses on the same patient. While a variety of adhesives are available for single-use tapes, silicone-based medical adhesives allow the sensor to be easily removed and securely attached again.

The comfort of the tape is always important, especially for tapes that need to be applied for a long time. Nonwoven tapes with at least a moderate MVTR are generally the most comfortable, although polyethylene tapes can be somewhat comfortable depending on construction and location. The comfort of the tape is also related to the thickness of the substrate and the length of time the tape is used. Long-lasting tape needs to be used comfortably for a week without patient discomfort, while thinner substrate materials allow for more flexibility and comfort.

3M Medical Fixing Tape

3M Medical Materials manufactures a variety of different medical fixation tapes for different applications. These securing tapes take into account the various ergonomic factors discussed above. Additionally, because these tapes can be standardized and available from one supplier, 3M simplifies inventory management and provides consistent documentation across products, which simplifies purchasing and reduces errors.

For applications requiring prolonged sticking, 3M-4077 Long Sticking Nonwoven Tape from 3M Company (Figure 2). 3M 4077 4″ X 10YD (Figure 1) is a popular size, 4″ X 10 yd (10 cm X 9 m), white nonwoven polyurethane backing with a thickness of 0.16 millimeters (mm). It uses a long Effective acrylic viscose, which makes it very comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Its MVTR is specified at ~185 gm/m2, with some liquid resistance, allowing the skin to breathe freely during the recommended 14-day use period.

Secure biomedical sensors with medical fixation tape and reduce errors
Figure 2: 3M 4077 Medical Fixation Tape has a recommended extra-long stick time of up to 14 days. It is supplied in a convenient roll, less than 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. (Image credit: 3M Medical Materials)

3M 4077 Medical Mounting Tape cannot be repositioned and is recommended for one-time use, so this tape is suitable for long-wear biometric sensors that are discarded after one use.

Like all tapes discussed here, 3M’s 4077 is available in roll form for ease of use. The tape roll is less than 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, making it easy to store in a medical room or emergency room.

For medical fixation tape applications where skin breathing must be allowed, the MVTR of the tape must be high. For these applications, 3M offers the 3M 1530 4″ X 10YD. This tape measures 4 inches by 10 yards (10 cm X 9 m) on a 0.14 mm base of white nonwoven rayon with surgical grade acrylic Medical viscose. This construction allows a very high MVTR rate of 4200 gm/m2. It cannot be repositioned and has no tolerance to liquids, so it is not suitable for most consumer biometric applications. Due to its high MVTR and good comfort The tape is specified for surgical applications and long-term hospital patient monitoring. It can be easily torn by hand – an advantage in emergency medical situations where events are rapidly evolving.

For applications requiring a high level of comfort and flexibility, 3M offers 3M 9836 4″ X 10YD Polyurethane Film Surgical Tape with acrylic medical adhesive. The standard size of this tape is 4 inches by 10 yards (10 cm X 9 m). The back is a polyurethane film, only 0.03 mm thick, the thinnest tape here for flexibility and comfort. It is waterproof and reasonably breathable at about 450 gm/m2, offering somewhere between breathability and waterproofing A good compromise. The tape’s thin, comfortable substrate, flexibility, reasonable breathability, and water resistance could make it suitable for attaching the sensor to a child, in which case the sensor and the attachment tape must withstand a certain Distortion of the sensor – especially important for patients who may not be able to provide effective verbal feedback to account for the comfort of the sensor application.

For some sensor monitoring applications, the sensor must be repositionable for multiple uses, and the medical instrument must also be secured to the patient’s skin. In these applications, a double-sided tape such as 3M 2477P 4″ X 10YD is useful (Figure 3). The tape measures 4 inches by 10 yards (10 cm X 9 m) and has a very thin 0.04 mm substrate Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) with adhesive on both sides (layer C). TPE is translucent to allow easy viewing of the sensor and skin to aid in proper application. Silicone acrylate medical adhesive on one side (layer B) ), this adhesive is designed to be gently removed and repositioned on the skin to secure the biometric sensor. On the opposite side of the TPE substrate is an acrylic based adhesive (layer D). This second adhesive can Securely attaches to tiny medical biometric sensor devices.

Secure biomedical sensors with medical fixation tape and reduce errors
Figure 3: The number of layers of double-sided 3M 2477P 4 x 10 YD medical fixation tape includes acrylic silicone on one side (layer B) and acrylic base adhesive (layer D) on the other side. (Image credit: 3M Medical Materials)

This unique medical fixation tape can serve two purposes. First, it can act as a security device for sensors and medical biometric recording devices. This provides a compact biometric recording system without long wires. The biometric sensor device can be a very lightweight embedded computer powered by a CR2032 battery. It can record sensor readings in flash memory or send sensor readings to a computer or mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It is also useful for prototyping commercial biometric sensor devices based on postage stamp-sized single board computers (SBCs).

Second, this tape can be used as a standalone medical tape. Silicone adhesive surfaces are available for repositionable or reusable biometric sensors. This allows the athlete’s biometric sensor to be used and reused on a daily basis. The tape is moderately resistant to liquids and has an MVTR of 400 gm/m2 – suitable for short-term use.

3M-2477P specifications do not recommend applying acrylic adhesive to the skin.


Not all biometric sensor attachment applications are created equal, so the market offers a wide selection of medical attachment tapes. The conditions of use of medical tape, including ergonomics, determine the material of the substrate and adhesive. Standardizing on one medical tape supplier simplifies purchasing and inventory, reduces errors, and ensures consistent documentation.

The Links:   EPM3512AQC208-10N CM600DU-24FA

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