A guide tube is a cylindrical pathway used to direct a variety of tools and fasteners. They are often made of flexible and durable plastic polymers. Guide tubes are typically installed to ensure accuracy and precision during a secondary process. Manufacturers sometimes employ them to control the uniformity of product assembly. Medical procedures requiring regular maintenance may be facilitated by guide tubes left in the body to allow immediate access for physicians.
Guide tubes create an unobstructed path to reduce complications and increase uniformity. They are an important part of a wide variety of manufacturing processes. Both human and mechanical product assembly processes can be controlled with guide tubes. Engineers generally align and test the position of these tubes. Manufacturers rely on the dependability of a guide tube to decrease errors and reduce overall waste.
Most guide tubes are cut to length to suit their individual purpose. An installer measures the distance from the target location to the access point. Extra length may be added to accommodate flexible guide tube materials and improve access. The custom-cut length of tube is then installed and secured with pressure, adhesive or a specialized fastener. Some guide tubes are designed to removed and discarded after their intended purpose is served.
Blood bank technicians often use guide tubes when drawing blood. A sterile tube is inserted into the arm with a needle and left in place while multiple containers are attached. This makes the job of the phlebotomist easier and increases overall efficiency in the blood drawing process. Leaving the tubing in place until the entire process is complete reduces damage to the blood vessel and increases comfort for the patient. Guide tubes are generally discarded as medical waste at the conclusion of the procedure.
Guide tubes have a range of diameters and designs to create sufficient internal space. Some are rigid in order to maintain a specific path despite exterior pressure. Tubes made to guide tools may be made of clear materials to allow the operator to see what they are doing. Reusable tubes can be pulled out and reinstalled multiple times to ensure accuracy.
Twisted or kinked guide tubes redirect or stop the progress of the internal object or material. Damaged tubes can generally be replaced or adjusted to prevent future complications. When replacements are needed, guide tubes can often be ordered directly from the manufacturer from a product catalog or manual.