Arkema launches hydrophilic elastomer for catheters

Riding the wave of accelerating use of thermoplastic elastomers in medical tubing applications, Arkema is launching a new flexible, hydrophilic Pebax grade.

Hydrophilic Pebax MV1074 SA 01 MED polymer is described as suitable for use in minimally invasive devices that are exposed to bodily fluids for less than 30 days, such as surgical tubing. It is a polyether block amide copolymer that is USP VI certified and is said to offer excellent high moisture absorption properties for device components in wet environments, such as catheters.

"Most polymers used in minimally invasive surgical devices are hydrophobic and create friction against moist bodily tissue," Arkema said in a press release. "Hydrophilic coatings are often applied to these polymer components to reduce friction and avoid tissue trauma, yet they add additional manufacturing steps and may provide more lubricity than necessary."

According to Arkema, the new polymer compound absorbs up to 48% of moisture from the surrounding environment and forms hydrogen bonds that create a wet film on the component surface that enhance lubricity against bodily tissue.  Comparatively, in the same conditions Pebax SA 01 MED copolymers often used for medical devices absorb only 1.2% moisture.

Pebax  MV 1074 SA 01 MED has a 40 Shore D hardness and 80 MPa (11,600 psi) flexural modulus. It is melt compatible with traditional polyether block amide and polymers, creating potential for co-extruded structures. The new elastomeric grade can be extruded as a hydrophilic polymer layer in a multi-layer tube or film extrusion for surfaces directly in contact with bodily tissue that require high moisture absorption.

The product was among many new plastics introduced last week at MD&M West in Anaheim, CA and will also be exhibited at MedTech Europe Feb. 26-28 at Stuttgart, Germany at the Velox booth number 1059. The grades are sold in the U.S. through Foster Corp., a medical compounder based in Putnam, CT.


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