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Supply Chain

Polymax TPE Amps Up Production of Medical Materials

Face masks made with TPEs from Polymax
The compounder has expanded output of its medical-grade TPEs to meet increased demand because of COVID-19 and shifted some production from China to the United States to support customers that are reshoring operations.

Custom compounder Polymax TPE has expanded output of its medical-grade P-Series and A-Series thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) to meet increased demand from customers. The materials are used to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE) and air-purifying respirators in high demand because of COVID-19. The company also shifted some of the production from its Nantong, China, facility to Waukegan, IL, to support customers that are reshoring operations. Polymax TPE has its headquarters in Milwaukee.

Thermoplastic elastomers are a possible replacement material for silicone and latex in the manufacture of face masks.

Polymax TPE started to ramp up production of its medical-grade TPEs in February, starting with its P-Series product line. Medical-grade P3838 from this series is molded into a diaphragm that is a critical component of a sputum aspirator. With rapidly spiking demand for medical-grade TPEs, the company has increased its focus on producing TPEs suitable for face-mask applications.

TPEs have been identified as a possible replacement material for silicone and latex to make face masks. As needs have changed, Polymax TPE and similar-minded companies have shifted their focus, helping to provide solutions to meet the growing demand for reshoring of PPE products to North American production.

“There are multiple design criteria that need to be considered when creating TPE materials for PPE applications, and our wide range of medical-grade P-Series has allowed us to provide solutions to molders for years,” said Tom Castile, Vice President, Sales. “The COVID-19 crisis has quickly created an urgency to source TPE products domestically.”

Polymax TPE also announced an expansion of the company's A-Series medical-grade TPE that adheres to engineered resins. It features the widest hardness range of its kind in the industry, according to Polymax TPE. Some specialty production will be moved from its Nantong facility to Waukegan to assist customers that are now reshoring production. This move will result in a quicker response to all domestic PPE production, allowing for faster deployment of this high-in-demand equipment, said Polymax TPE.

“As a global leader of TPE solutions and the brand owner of Maxelast, Polymax TPE technologies can meet the demanding needs of many air-purifying respirator and PPE applications, essential in the battle against COVID-19,” said Castile. “Our ability to also provide custom TPE solutions without the typical high cost associated with these solutions has been important for many molders as they continue to develop and introduce new products.”

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