BASF Targets Medical Devices with New Grades, Capacity and R&D

October 20, 2011

BASF is significantly beefing up its customized technology solutions for the medical market.

"BASF's value proposition is to develop specific formulations for device makers and to incorporate those into plastic compounds or coatings that can be used to manufacture the devices," Dr. Richard Thomas, new business development manager, medical device materials, BASF NAFTA,  told in an interview.

BASF medical products.
BASF is now offering three new medical-technology products from two plastics families.   

One of BASF's fortes is the ability to tailor release of active chemicals depending on the need of the application. "If you need a short-term burst of activity we can do that. If you need something that can last three or four weeks, we do that as well."

BASF is currently building a microbiology capability in Tarrytown, New York to augment a lab in Germany. "We also have an active R&D program focusing on nonleaching technologies that is still in the development phase," Thomas said.

The program addresses the growing number of implantable devices that need to be protected from bacteria. The antimicrobial treatments need to be designed so they remain in the plastic and not migrate into the bloodstream.

"We will be introducing more breakthrough products," Thomas said.

BASF works on a full portfolio of plastics used in medical applications, including silicones and polycarbonate which are not part of its own product line.

Thomas will be speaking on "Anti-Infective Surfaces in Medical Devices" at the Compamed trade show in Düsseldorf Nov. 16-18.

For manufacturers of medical devices and equipment, the BASF team combines silver ions contained in a variety of substrates to meet the requirements of a given application. "This selective combination produces synergy effects that enhance the efficiency of the individual components," said  Edgar Eichholz, launch manager medical device materials. In the formulations obtained in this way, the silver ions will act longer, for example, or faster. A microbiology team checks the various formulations obtained for antimicrobial effectiveness against relevant microorganisms, including mulitresistant pathogens like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

BASF is also researching new generations of materials with novel surface effects that are of interest for medical devices and equipment and offers cooperation opportunities for medical device manufacturers.

New grades

BASF uses the suffix "PRO," to identify polymers for the medical market.  The Pro group the Ultraform  PRO range (POM: polyoxymethylene; polyacetal) and Ultradur  B4520 PRO (PBT: polybutylene terephthalate). They can be combined, for example, to make insulin pens with excellent sliding friction properties. Ultraform  PRO provides for low friction between the individual functional parts while Ultradur  PRO, as the sliding member, prevents noise during use.

Ultraform  N2320 003 PRO is a new injection-molding grade with a higher viscosity being added to the range. It targets highly stressed elements such as functional parts in insulin pens, atomizing devices or dry-powder inhalers.

The new Ultraform  H4320 PRO has been tailored specifically for processing by extrusion. It is highly viscous, even more impact-resistant while also being very stiff as well as strong and it displays good thermal stability, according to BASF. Its target applications are plug-in connectors, handles of surgical instruments and other components that are made from semi-finished parts.

BASF is also launching its first PBT for injection-molded applications in medical technology. BASF says that the new Ultradur B4520 PRO  has optimized shrinkage behavior, so that and meets stricter requirements in terms of reproducible dimensional accuracy made on components intended for medical devices. This material can be easily printed on and sterilized with ionizing gamma radiation or ethylene oxide.

BASF has also developed a non-phthalate plasticizer, called Hexamoll DINCH, for medical device applications.

The alternative plasticizer offers maximum safety to its low migration rate and excellent toxicological profile, according to BASF.  It is used, for example, for enteral and parenteral nutrition and other medical applications like catheters and breathing masks. Another possible application is blood bags.

BASF is doubling its annual production capacity for the new plasticizer from 100,000 metric tons to 200,000 metric tons by 2013.


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