Surgical gowns and protective medical garments must balance exceptional levels of safety with comfort, a feat that conventional technologies don't always achieve, according to DSM (Sittard, Netherlands). At NPE2015, the company will showcase its Arnitel VT thermoplastic copolyester that provides an iron-clad barrier against bacteria and viruses without inconveniencing healthcare workers.
"Micro-perforated systems, often based on polyolefins, provide comfort but do not ensure a 100% barrier against bacteria and viruses," says Paul Habets, Global Business Incubator, Marketing, DSM Engineering Plastics. "And conventional polymer systems without perforations offer barrier protection but are lacking significantly in comfort." Arnitel VT, developed by DSM, provides a 100% barrier against viruses, bacteria and a multitude of other media without compromising on comfort, says Habets.
The Arnitel material, which is also used to produce textiles for high-performance, waterproof, breathable clothing among other applications, is a monolithic structure that retains breathability without the use of micro perforations. The membrane is 100% impermeable to germs, bacteria, and viruses, but won't precipitate sweating—something you don't want in your surgeon—or produce other forms of discomfort, says Habets.
Surgical wear is a fast growing application for the material in the medical space, says Habets. "The United States has been the leading market, and Japan and Korea also have embraced the technology." Europe has been a bit of a laggard, says Habets, but the recent Ebola outbreak and recognition of the alarming rate of hospital-acquired infections is causing some European Union member states to reconsider surgical gown legislation, and that is encouraging news for patients and healthcare workers, as well as for DSM. All of these recent and ongoing events have "raised awareness in the general population and among legislators of the importance of impermeability in medical materials," says Habets.
While safety is the primary consideration when developing products for medical applications, the medtech industry is not an island and must meet demand for cost efficiency and, increasingly, sustainability just like any other sector. DSM is ahead of the curve, says Habets, and "has environmental engineers that are doing carbon footprint analyses and environmental impact studies on materials and applications so that our customers can choose the best possible solutions in terms of performance, cost, and environmental impact," says Habets. Surgical gowns made with Arnitel VT are a case in point. "These cost-efficient, disposable products fulfill the highest safety standards yet have a significantly lower eco footprint compared with traditional surgical wear," says Habets.
The company will showcase this material along with numerous other innovations during NPE2015 in Orlando, FL, this month in room W-225A.