Stepping beyond the medical zone at NPE2018

  • NPE2018 logo

    Plastics have transformed the practice of healthcare in myriad ways, from preventing hospital-acquired infections through single-use products to reducing the cost of medical devices. How medical plastics save lives is one of the themes at NPE2018 and that message is underscored with the first-ever Medical Parts Processing Zone at this year’s event.

    Eleven exhibitors will share 3000 square feet of space in the Medical Parts Processing Zone, according to NPE2018 organizers. Those companies bring an array of capabilities and expertise in automation, materials and additives, prototyping, injection molding and coatings for medical applications. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plastics processing targeting medical device OEMs: This slide show features a selection of medical molding, extrusion and 3D printing applications that you can find outside the zone at NPE2018.

  • Natvar

    First-time NPE exhibitor Natvar (Wayne, PA), a Tekni-Plex business unit, will showcase innovations in medical tubing in booth S27195. Natvar will be joined by Tekni-Plex’s latest acquisition, Dunn Industries.  

    Microextrusion tubing has been developed in recent years to serve a variety of demanding neuro-vascular interventional therapies and surgical applications. Natvar’s new micro-extrusion medical tubing can be made from cost-effective thermoplastics and other highly engineered materials. Because it can consistently hold tight tolerances, it is an alternative to more expensive materials such as glass and fluoropolymers.

    Monolayer, co-extruded and multi-lumen tubing or profiles can be micro-extruded in a range of thermoplastic materials in wall thicknesses ranging from 0.003 to 0.005 inches. 

    At NPE2018, Natvar also is announcing the global availability of its high-precision medical silicone extrusion tubing, typically used for catheters, feeding tubes, drug delivery and peristaltic pump applications.

  • Wittmann Battenfeld

    The EcoPower 110/350 B6P from Wittmann Battenfeld (Torrington, CT) is shown here about to ship from the Torrington plant to NPE2018. The machine will be running in booth W3742 molding pipettes with an eight-cavity mold from Cavaform using polypropylene from Washington Penn with color from UCC. The production cell will showcase cleanroom molding capabilities along with a W823 robot with a servo B axis and an extension allowing for dual placement onto pipette trays. It will also feature a high-flow vacuum EOAT, tray filling conveyor system, Tempro D Plus temperature controller and Aton H dryer.

  • Arburg freeformer

    Arburg (Lossburg, Germany) will show how its ever-popular freeformer is suitable for the industrial additive manufacturing of functional parts at booth W1325. At an interactive station, visitors will be able to pick up these parts to witness their functionality and quality for themselves.

    Freeformer customers can qualify their own materials via the Arburg Plastic Freeforming process and optimize the freely programmable process parameters specifically to the application at hand. An enormous advantage, according to Arburg, is that certified original materials can be used, for example, for medical technology or the aerospace industry.

    In addition to amorphous standard granulates such as ABS, PA and PC, Arburg's continuously expanding range of qualified materials includes elastic TPE, medical-grade PLLA, PC approved for the aerospace industry and semi-crystalline PP. Arburg will connect all the dots for attendees on May 9 during the Additive Manufacturing conference.

  • Engel

    Engel (York, PA) will reprise a live demo molding interdental brushes that it has exhibited at other shows in the recent past, but if you missed it, it deserves to be on your must-see list. A cleanroom version of the all-electric e-motion 170/110-T will mold the product at NPE2018—including the grip surface and core—with up to 500 bristles formed in a single-component injection mold.

    “As a rule, interdental brushes consist of three components—the grip surface, a wire mesh and the filaments—which are usually produced in independent processes,” explained Jon Kelm, Manager of Medical and Packaging Business Units for Engel North America. “By contrast, our solution does away with the entire work steps and reduces the logistical effort.”

    The mold was built by Hack Formenbau, with Hekuma providing automation for the production cell, built in the modular Hekuflex design. Immediately after injection molding, the parts are inspected by a vision system and packed in retail bags, each one containing 16 parts. A bag leaves the production cell every four seconds.

    You can see the whole shebang at booth W3303.

  • BASF, Essentium prosthetic leg

    A 3D-printed prosthetic leg—reportedly the strongest 3D-printed device of its kind on the market today—will be on display at the BASF booth (S15023). The customizable, lightweight definitive prosthetic socket improves patient comfort and can be manufactured faster than conventional devices, according to BASF (Florham Park, NJ) and 3D-printing and materials development company Essentium (College Station, TX). The two companies partnered to develop the prosthetic, which is printed using BASF’s Ultramid polyamide reinforced with short carbon fiber.

  • Davis-Standard

    Davis-Standard LLC (Pawcatuck, CT) is bringing its medical extruder direct drive (MEDD) to booth W5947 at NPE2018. The system will extrude medical-grade tubing from Medalist MD-12382 TPE, a translucent, kink-resistant, gamma-stable compound from Teknor Apex Co. (Pawtucket, RI). The production line will feature the company’s Thermatic extruder design and the DS eVUE II controller. According to Davis-Standard, the tubing line will be a “live demonstration of the Industrial Internet of Things, also known as Industry 4.0 technology, showing the benefits of preventive and predictive maintenance as part of an international trend toward the ‘smart factory.’”

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