Why do some insulin pumps crack?

We seem to be seeing another rash of people reporting cracks in their “waterproof” Medtronic 640G insulin pumps. Medtronic keeps replacing them under warranty, although we do see some people complaining of things like that it’s the 5th time this has happened to them.

Example of a cracked 640G pump (courtesy of Linda de Wal)

Clearly this pump is no longer waterproof! As noted in my earlier article on waterproof pumps, the manufacturers give warnings about checking your device for cracks before assuming that it’s still watertight.

We saw quite a few reports of this back in summer, and some people wondered if the heat had anything to do with it. Maybe it was sudden changes in temperature between days of over-40˚C and sub-20˚C. Now we’re in the depths of winter. Of course it is possible that Medtronic has had some manufacturing issue which may have made some pumps particularly susceptible to this problem. However, we as users also need to make sure we’re treating the pumps properly, as we might have some responsibility too.

It’s worth nothing that these cracks always seem to appear around the battery compartment. The pump’s User Guide clearly notes a warning about overtightening the battery cap, as shown here:

It’s worth noting that this arrangement of not tightening the battery cap further than that “horizontal” slot alignment also applies to the earlier Medtronic Paradigm and Veo pumps.

Animas Vibe

This issue is not unique to Medtronic. Over time some Animas Vibe pumps have also developed cracks (which very clearly leave them no longer waterproof). It’s worth noting that Animas also advise to not overtighten the battery cap. With the Vibe cap there’s a yellow ring seal in the cap. Once you can no longer see that yellow, it’s time to stop tightening the cap!

In this image you can just see the yellow between the black of the cap and the green of the pump body. Turning the cap another 15˚ or so would be all that’s required: no more!

Take care!

To protect my pumps I keep them in thin sleeves (usually soft silicone) to help protect them against bumps and scratches. But I always make sure I don’t overtighten the battery/reservoir caps.
That way if there is a crack in the pump I can be confident when talking to the manufacturer that it wasn’t my responsibility.

19 thoughts on “Why do some insulin pumps crack?”

  1. Vivien Berryman

    You can’t over tighten the battery compartment on the 640G and I always use my pump clip to open and close it as per diagram above. I too have bought a silicon skin to help perfect my pump but as you say it will only protect against bumps and scratches. I just think they need to reinforce the parts of the pump we take apart regularly. The recent weather in the UK might have also caused issues with pumps. Nothing can take away from how terrifying it is to find a crack in your pump

  2. Yep… I’m calling today for the 5th time due to a cracked pump on the battery compartment. Almost in the exact spot on your picture. Working in product design myself, this appears to be a defect in the design of the tool and process of injection molding the case. Depending on where flow lines meet, that can be a consistent weak point. If they’re not doing a good flow analysis, this can happen.

    1. Andrea Scott-Cox

      Yes I’ve just had another one do the exact same thing twice …battery side but it starts at the bottom of the clip slot and curves round to the left!

      1. Yep. Me too. On my second pump now within 6 months’ Cracks across battery section from clip attachment point diagonally across to the base. Has to be a plastic injection moulding problem methinks.

    2. Melissa Buffington

      God bless you, Chris. This is the only reasonable explanation of my wretched experience with this product that I’ve heard. My iPhone is so durable, why must my life saving medical device be a piece of garbage?? Rhetorical question. Thanks again for the sanity you provided.

  3. Mine also 4th one most recent one in March,, same area… I am well known not to over tighten the battery ,,

  4. I just noticed another crack in my pump tonight. This is the third pump I have had that has cracked in the last 3 years. Cracks extend from where the clip goes in to the base of the pump. Very frustrating.

    1. Andrea Scott-Cox

      I’ve just had my second do this! Exactly the same spot twice. Does seem to.be where the clip slot is. I don’t even use the clip so it can’t be from pulling it in and out

  5. I just noticed a crack in my pump exactly like the one on the photo. I always tighten the battery gently. However I noticed that things can happens to the pump when flying on airplanes. And I just came back from a trip like that. Another time the buttons got stiff and did not respond. Until about 20 minutes after landing it was working fine.

    1. Yes that’s a known issue with the Medtronic 600-series pumps (the stuck buttons).
      The workaround is to release the pressure by opening/closing the battery compartment.

  6. I started on the 670g in March 2019 and I loved it up until I went away and suddenly my pump had a critical error alert and I couldn’t use it.

    2nd pump broke around the neck of the reservoir,

    3rd pump broke around the neck of the reservoir, and I’m not over tightening (pump user for 17 yrs).

    4th was another crack along the back with the neck again.

    I’m a stay at home mom and I’m not rough by any means and know I have not bumped or dropped any of them. I actually keep my pump in a case in the inside of the clothing only.

    I found the old Medtronic Minimed was way more reliable as the only time I would even need new ones was when I was due for a new pump. This will be my 5th replacement in 7 months. Having this pump definitely doesn’t put my mind at ease like my old one did.

  7. After reading these reviews I am glad to see I am not inadvertently doing something to make my Medtronic Minimed 640 pumps crack. I successfully used an Animas pump for 10 years but when they were no longer manufactured I changed to Medtronic when told these were the best! I have now had 2 pumps crack identical to the diagram within 6 months. When my pump is replaced the procedure to transfer information is complex due to having multiple readings. I am now feeling let down, lacking in confidence and exceedingly stressed. All things we, as diabetics, are advised not to be!!

    1. Andrea Scott-Cox

      Exactly the same scenario as you!! Personally think it is a fault in the moulding of the plastic

    2. Me too! It’s a disaster and I have one more year left with Medtronic. I will not be using their products after that. What crap.

  8. I have had two pumps fail like this. I think it just needs more reinforcement, so that it can handle being sat on slept on, etc. these things are attached to you 24/7 and need to be able active lifestyles and some bumps.

  9. Thank you everyone for posting. I thought I was the only person to have a cracked pump. Mine is the exact same place as the picture. Wish me luck as I now have to call Medtronic ?

  10. Michelle M Martin

    I have to thank everyone who replied to this post! Medtronics makes you feel like you are a crazy person to have to report yet another broken pump. I really feel it is within the manufacturing of the pumps and not the end user as they are “made” to be worn 24/7 365. They are suppose to make a diabetics life easier! I am a 64 year old woman – how does a rambunctious child treat one of these devices?

  11. I’m on about my 6th warranty replacement now and the problem is getting worse not better. Tomorrow will be my third in 6 weeks! Each one has failed with a stress crack in exactly the same place (radiating down from the bottom left of the belt clip). Telling people to “stop using and revert to your backup plan” every time these fails has very real, negative implications to health and well-being. These pumps are simply not fit for purpose. Medtronic are great at replacing failed units within a few days, but this does not excuse the fact that they seem to be doing nothing to resolve the underlying design flaw. Has anyone in the UK made a complaint to the regulators or their supplying NHS organisation?

  12. Melussa Buffington

    I’m on my third pump and this one cracked again after only 6 weeks. Same exact crack as shown in the photo above (same on all my cracked pumps). I treated this pump so carefully, I don’t know what else to do. I would NEVER trust this product for a child. Please Medtronic, fix this design problem. I’ve loved you since Minimed but actually resent you now and will definitely go elsewhere when I can if this can’t get resolved.

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