K 2013: Styrolution tackles flexible PVC replacement

October 18, 2013

Düsseldorf — Styrolution, the two-year-old German-based supplier of styrenic plastics, is working with a leading medical supply producer to develop flexible styrenics that can replace flexible PVC in collection and infusion bags, medical tubing, and multilayer tubes.

Fruits of the collaboration are on display at the Styrolution stand (5/C24) at K2013.

Styroflex, a styrenic block copolymer that is elastomeric, is used in the components on display as an alternative to PVC plasticized with phthalates, which have come under attack by some critics who say they are unsafe.

A multilayer film on display in the booth mates the styrenic block copolymer with polymers such as olefins in an effort to overcome some of the material's weak points, such as a low softening temperature, an official of Styrolution told Plastics Today in an interview.

On the plus side, the Styroflex, is inherently flexible, transparent, relatively cost effective, and also allows film thickness to be reduced 50% while maintaining extremely high tear and perforation resistance. The Styrolution research official said that the styrenic copolymer offers good bonding performance and lower drug absorption than some other potential polymer options for the application.

He said that Styrolution's work on the project is pretty far advanced, but could not indicate when commercialization would take place. Suitability for steam sterilization is still an issue. Processability, specifically melt strength, also remains an issue,

Kraton has had significant success using a different styrenic block copolymer as an olefinic modifier to replace flexible PVC in medical applications. 

Styrolution is also looking for opportunities to replace TPEs and polycarbonate in healthcare applications. Another medical application on display at the stand is the Boehringer Ingelheim Handihaler, which uses Novodur HD in the mouthpiece and housing and TerluxHD in a transparent capsule chamber. 

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