Demand for PVC-free and specialty polymers fuels growth for medical materials compounder Melitek

Denmark-based Melitek (Alslev) made the bet early on that PVC-replacement materials for medical and packaging applications was a growth industry. When I toured the facility about 10 years ago, Melitek proudly showed off what it called one of industry's most advanced medical compounding plants for thermoplastic olefins and thermoplastic elastomers. Anticipating steady growth in demand for its meliflex materials at that time, the company bought an additional 16,000 sq m of land next to the new facility to meet future expansion needs. That was a smart move, as evidenced by the company's recent addition of a high-capacity TPE production line. Increased production space and a new warehouse also were added over the past year.

The redundant production line will run the same brands and sizing as the company's current medical line, but it will include many new features, making production even more efficient and safe, says Melitek Director Kim Laursen.

"Without any doubt, the February 2015 sunset date for DEHP set by the European Chemicals Agency, which has classified DEHP as a Substance of Very High Concern, continues to move the market in the direction of PVC-free products," Laursen told PlasticsToday. "Also, the price premium of alternative PVC plasticizers and the lack of long-term regulatory information on these alternatives are leading companies to fully phase out PVC along with phthalates and plasticizers," says Laursen. This shift is affecting not only primary packaging but also medical devices such as catheters and infusion tubing systems, he adds, noting that the trend is global and is spearheaded by the most innovative companies in the healthcare sector. But that is only one aspect of the growth narrative, according to Laursen.

"Melitek's portfolio today is much broader, covering compounds based on various polymer matrices including PP, PE, ABS, SAN, PS, TPE, TPE, TPU, and TPV," says Laursen. The popularity of the company's thermoplastic compounds for healthcare and medical applications, marketed under the meliflex XC name, are contributing to the company's ever-expanding footprint.

The meliflex XC range is designed for customers in the healthcare market who put rigorous demands on material suppliers either in terms of scope of documentation and change control requirements or applications, explains Laursen. In addition to enhanced surface, impact, UV-protection, radiation-resistance, laser-marking, and laser-welding properties, meliflex XC materials are supported by the company's medical service concept, which ensures end users that thorough supply-change management and traceability processes are in place.

"Melitek's medical service concept includes stringent change control procedures, segregated and high-containment production, extensive line clearance procedures, stringent production and release procedures, high-quality packaging options, full lot traceability for 13 years, and, of course, certificates of analysis and technical delivery specification and product certifications to ISO and USP standards," explains Laursen.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new production line took place on Sept. 14, 2014, and it is expected to begin operating this month.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

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