Material suppliers put forward PVC alternatives for medical tubing market


PolyOne's GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers unit and Teknor Apex Co. both launched elastomer-based alternatives to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubing at MD&M West (Feb. 9-11; Anaheim, CA), proactively offering an alternative to vinyl should OEMs seek a switch. GLS, a business within PolyOne's Specialty Engineered Materials group, introduced Versaflex HC TPEs for medical tubing at the show. Based on a patent-pending formulation, PolyOne says the globally available Versaflex HC MT 220 grades feature excellent clarity and flexibility in a non-plasticized formulation with exceptionally low leachables and extractables for enhanced patient safety. They are available in hardnesses ranging from 65 to 85 Shore A.

PolyOne's GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers launched Versaflex HC TPEs for medical tubing at MD&M West, giving OEMs a choice if they move away from vinyl.
PolyOne's GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers launched Versaflex HC TPEs for medical tubing at MD&M West, giving OEMs a choice if they move away from vinyl.

Teknor Apex expanded its Medalist range of pre-qualified medical materials with the MD-500 Series of compounds, saying the exhibit excellent clarity with mechanical properties comparable to PVC, including similar clamp resilience as well as resistance to kinking and necking, which refers to the deformation of tubing when stretched by clinicians.

PolyOne reports that its Versaflex HC MT220s have flexibility, kink resistance, and soft feel that are equal to or better than traditional tubing materials. The broad range of hardnesses provides design freedom, allowing a variety of sizes and shapes, and these materials can be sterilized using gamma, E-Beam, and autoclave methods. PolyOne says Versaflex HC grades can also be solvent bonded to connectors made from commonly used resins, including acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, and polypropylene.

Teknor Apex says its new MD-500 range has a PVC-like "feel", while offering more flexibility and lower densities. The company states that under gamma irradiation—the most severe type of sterilization—the materials undergo minimal heat-aging-related color shift. As an example, the company says Medalist MD-575 actually exhibits 70% less heat-aged color shift than a gamma-stabilized PVC compound of comparable hardness.

At the show, GLS technology launch manager, Joe Kutka, said that after the company

TeknorApex.jpg: Teknor Apex introduced series of advanced medical-grade elastomers at MD&M West to provide what it calls a "fully practical alternative to PVC for many tubing applications
Teknor Apex introduced series of advanced medical-grade elastomers at MD&M West to provide what it calls a "fully practical alternative to PVC for many tubing applications

introduced its Versaflex HC MT plasticizer-free for films at a past MD&M, tube manufacturers began to ask for a similar material for their product. In terms of processing, Kutka says that not only can converters use their existing vinyl dies with the new elastomer, but, due to the material's properties, they can run lines faster with thinner tube walls.

At the same show, medical products manufacturer Eldon James Corp. (Loveland, CO) showcased a new line of medical tubing and fittings utilizing GLS's clear customized TPEs. The custom elastomers feature low leachables and extractables, with higher-hardness grades able to withstand autoclave sterilization at temperatures up to 135ºC.

Larry Johnson, marketing director healthcare for PolyOne, told MPW his company's interest in launching the grade was not to replace vinyl, rather it wants to give its customers options. "There's no question that there are OEMs asking for an alternative [to PVC]," Johnson said, "but it's definitely not a wholesale switch."

Explaining that his company's offerings for the market currently run the gamut and include DEHP-based plasticized PVC, non-DEHP plasticized PVC, non-phthalate PVC, and the newest elastomer, Teknor Apex's Elliott Pritikin echoed the sentiment of PolyOne's Johnson. "Wherever the OEMS push us," Pritikin told MPW, "we're in a position to respond." Tony Deligio

 

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