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Flexible material that quickly dissolves in rubbing alcohol

  1. Jun 28, 2015 #1
    Hello! I'm looking for a substance that can:
    (1) be turned into a flexible material (e.g., a flexible plastic),
    (2) is dissolveable in rubbing alcohol but not water (or blood), and
    (3) safe for a medical procedure

    .... And, if possible, preferably biodegradable...

    I know that's kind of a long list, so I'll provide some context. I'm working on a medical device project. The device has to be safe to put on human skin or, ideally, in a human body. The device should be flexible, and dissolveable in less than 10 seconds upon application of rubbing alcohol (or another substance commonly found in hospitals). Because it's for use in medical procedures, the device obviously can't dissolve if blood or water hits it.

    Any help or direction would be very much appreciated! If this can't be achieved with one material, but would require a combination of materials, please let me know, too! I'll take all the help I can get (I'm an electrical engineer with 0 materials knowledge).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2015 #2
    It looks like there have been quite a few views of this thread (35+) but no responses. Maybe someone can explain the requirement above that's causing the most difficulty for folks and we can work our way around it? For example, if 1 and 2 are possible but not 3, please let me know that and I'll engineer a solution around it.

  4. Jun 30, 2015 #3


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    It is really difficult. At first I thought of the natural plastic that old records were made from, which is shellac, made from solution in ethanol, but I doubt it will dissolve quickly again once it has been moulded. So how about a wax, which might dissolve in ethanol but not in water?
  5. Jun 30, 2015 #4
    Thanks for your answer! Is there a particular kind of wax you had in mind?

    I feel like I had read somewhere that mothballs will dissolve in rubbing alcohol but not water...but i think those are poisonous, so it probably wouldn't meet criterion number (3).
  6. Jun 30, 2015 #5
  7. Jul 1, 2015 #6


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    What about beeswax and using vegetable oil as a solvent?
  8. Jul 1, 2015 #7
    Resin looks like it could fit the bill. It seems like you might be able to mold resin into a fairly flexible but solid material (i'm not sure this is the case because it doesn't explicitly say it on Wiki, but i assume you can). It also seems to be insoluble in water but mostly soluble in alcohol. Any idea on how long it takes to dissolve resin in alcohol - is it fairly quick?
  9. Jul 1, 2015 #8
    I like this idea too, thanks! So beeswax won't dissolve in alcohol/water but will in vegetable oil? Any idea on how quickly it dissolves?
  10. Jul 1, 2015 #9
    No idea.
    But it certainly would not be like salt dissolving in water if that is the quickness you desire.
  11. Jul 1, 2015 #10
    Thanks - yup I'm looking for a pretty fast dissolve. Probably less than 10 seconds. I'll note though that the substance will be a thin film, no more than 1/16th of an inch thick, though.
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