Foster Polymer Distribution, a business unit of Foster Corp. (Putnam, CT) specializing in the distribution of medical polymers and additives, has announced an official partnership with Mitsui Chemicals to distribute TPX polymethylpentene (PMP) olefin copolymer to the North American medical market. The low surface tension of this olefin is suited for mandrels used in manufacturing precision medical tubing and release films for shipping and handling applications.
Precision medical device components, such as catheters, often require mandrels to support thin wall sections and retain tolerances during manufacturing, said Foster. These mandrels are commonly made from polymers that must resist heat and chemicals during manufacturing and have exceptional release properties, as measured by surface tension, so that the finished part can be easily removed. TPX polyolefin copolymer has a melting point range of 220° to 240°C (428° to 464°F) and a surface tension 38% lower than high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a common mandrel material used for catheter manufacturing.
Release films, used for protection of medical devices and equipment during transportation and handling, also benefit from this halogen-free, inherently transparent copolymer, according to Foster. TPX olefin copolymer has a specific gravity of 0.83, which is 13% lower than HDPE and represents the lowest density of any commercially available thermoplastic. TPX olefin-based release films minimize weight, which can reduce transportation costs.
"Mitsui's TPX copolymer has non-stick properties approaching PTFE, yet unlike PTFE it is a true thermoplastic and, therefore, easy to process using conventional equipment," said Brittany Palmer, Foster Distribution Business Manager, in a news release. "TPX grades are currently available for injection molding and extrusion."