A growing population of elderly patients using an array of remote diagnostics and other digital medical devices is driving demand for plastics in medical applications, which jumped 6.3% between 2017 and 2021, according to a new report.
The trend will continue through 2032, with a projected 7.8% CAGR, sending global revenue for the sector to $106.23 billion by that year, according to research by Future Market Insights (FMI) of Newark, DE.
The North American medical plastics market accounted for 34% of global market share in 2021, FMI said, and the global market is projected to grow to $50.13 billion this year.
Traditional materials, such as polyphenylsulfone medical plastics, are predicted to gain the most market share by 2032, said Nikhil Kaitwade, Associate Vice President of market research at FMI. “But PVC is the preferred material and is expected to maintain its market share until then. Over the projected period, commodity thermoplastics such as polyolefin, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, and polystyrene will have the largest share of the worldwide medical plastics market. The usage of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) in spinal implants is predicted to increase.”
Medical plastics applications expected to create significant demand in the forecast period include insulin delivery, prosthetics (plastic implants), and medical devices such as catheters, plastic pill casings, and disposables, Kaitwade noted. Plastics answer the demand for materials that are lightweight and recyclable.
“Because of the development of powerful sanitizing agents,” he continued, “plastics such as bioresorbable materials, high-performance thermoplastics, and engineering plastics have experienced increased penetration in the sector, replacing old commodity plastics.” Polymers such as TPU, PC, bioresorbable materials, and other high-performance and engineering plastics are emerging as favorites. “These plastics' qualities, including impact strength, heat tolerance, stiffness, and sterilizing compatibility, are causing them to become more widely used in the medical business.”
Pharmaceutical packaging is also expected to drive the medical plastics market, he added, with companies using medical plastics to fabricate packaging for products like sterile plastic packaging systems for human blood and blood components, plastic packaging systems for aqueous solutions, bags for parenteral solutions, and infusion dry powder and metered-dose inhalers.
While manufacturing supply chains were notably upended during the COVID-19 pandemic, “the plastic manufacturing industry is bouncing back and output is ramping up, especially with new capacity expansions in bioplastics and high-performance polymers,” Kaitwade said. “In the medium term, this will secure adequate supply.”
Among the many significant developments in the medical plastics sector over the past five years, he emphasized:
- Trelleborg Healthcare & Medical completed expansion of its facility in Delano, MN, in September 2020. The facility includes a 6,000-square-foot ISO Class 7 cleanroom. In addition to silicone and thermoplastic molding, the Delano facility supports assembly and secondary operations, in-house tool making, precision machining for micro molding, and automation for medical device and pharma OEMs.
- MTD Micro Molding doubled its cleanroom space in September 2020 as part of a plant expansion. A single-source supplier, MTD performs all micro-molding services in-house in a controlled environment. The vertically integrated company manufactures tooling on site and has developed expertise in micro molding bioabsorbable and drug-delivery devices.
- MGS broke ground on a $10-million expansion of its contract manufacturing facility in October 2020. The company forecast double-digit growth in 2021, much of it on the heels of strong demand from its health-care customers.