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Taghleef Industries wins 2012 Sustainability Award

Emulating last year’s success, Taghleef Industries, a major producer of packaging films made from renewable resources (PLA bio-based resin), has been awarded a 2012 Sustainability Award by the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL). 

Now in its fourth year, the Sustainability Competition honors equipment, materials or processes that reduce environmental impact, minimize energy usage or waste, and/or increase recycling. It is part of AIMCAL's larger awards program, which includes Technology of the Year and Vacuum Metallized or Coated Product of the Year competitions.

The award was presented Sunday, March 11, 2012, at an awards banquet during AIMCAL's annual Management Meeting and recognizes printed, pressure-sensitive tape made from Taghleef’s  transparent Nativia NTSS, or solid-white Nativia NWSS biaxially oriented polylactic acid (PLA) films. The tapes are converted by Logo tape Gesellschaft für Selbstklebebänder mbH & Co. KG (Harrislee, Germany).

Based on Ingeo PLA resin from NatureWorks, the bio-based, compostable tapes rely on proprietary coating technology, can carry printed messages, and are particularly well-suited for sealing kraft paper bags and corrugated cases. The PLA tapes exhibit high tensile and bond strength, and perform in numerous industrial and consumer applications.

Along with being derived from a renewable source, compared to its PP or polyester counterparts the PLA tape offers a lower carbon footprint, recyclability, compostability, and compatibility with some paper recycling processes where the PLA dissolves into nontoxic lactide.

The judges noted pressure-sensitive tape is a new application for PLA film and liked the fact that it can help end users achieve sustainability goals. The judges also observed converting to PLA tape could be particularly advantageous in applications where conventional tape materials complicate recycling or where packaging is destined for post-consumer composting.

When it comes to the U.S. manufacturing economy, they’re still trying to put lipstick on this pig

Each month or two, surveys from various associations roll in and lately the spin has been the same: things are booming for manufacturers. Manufacturing is expanding, increasing and growing.  That might be true if you only read the first sentence or two of these reports. So when it comes to reporting on these manufacturing surveys and analysis, it pays to read the fine print. 

U.S. manufacturing technology orders finished strong for 2011 with a total of $5,508.81 million, up 66.4% compared with 2010, and 2012 is off to a strong start. That’s according to this week’s release of the report from The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and the American Machine Tool Distributors Association. January’s Manufacturing Technology orders rose 8.4% to $401.69 million, compared to January 2011’s orders that totaled $370.48.

“I think the continued growth highlights manufacturer’s increasing confidence in future growth and that they their bottom lines are being channeled into investments in advanced manufacturing technology,” commented Douglas K. Woods, AMT president. 

Regionally however, all regions showed a decline in January’s orders from December 2011 except the Central region, which was up 11.6% at $128.30 million. In the Northeast region, January’s orders were down 43.2% from December’s, totaling only $56.01 million. The Southern region saw January’s manufacturing technology orders fall 62.1% from December’s orders, to just $35.57 million. The Midwest region had January 2012 manufacturing technology orders totaling $141.71 million, 23.8% less than December’s orders. And the Western region’s orders fell by 24.1% from December’s orders, totaling $40.10 million. 

And while some regions show manufacturing technology orders for January 2012 were up from January 2011, some were down—a real mixed bag. Manufacturing in many sectors—and the economy in general—continues to be unpredictable, and manufacturers are looking for every advantage they can get.

The news from the Robotic Industries Association also revealed a strong 2011. North American robotics companies sold more robots in 2011 than ever before, according to new statistics from the RIA. A total of 19,337 robots valued at $1.17 billion were sold to companies in North America, beating the previous record of 18,228 robots sold in 2005. Compared to 2010, North American orders increased 47% in units and 38% in dollars, fueled by a revitalized demand from the automotive industry, explained Paul Kellett, director of market analysis for the RIA. “Robots sold to automotive component suppliers in North America jumped 77% over 2010, while robots sold to automotive OEMs increased 59%,” he noted in his analysis.

For non-automotive manufacturers, robotics sold to the metalworking industries was up 56%, the largest segment outside automotive. 

The fourth quarter of 2011 was the strongest quarter ever recorded by the RIA (the association began reporting in 1984) in terms of units ordered with 5,721 robots valued at $317.5 million. The fourth quarter was up 61% in units and 40% in dollars over the same period in 2010.

Some of this demand in 2011, and particularly during the fourth quarter, may have been created by the 100% depreciation allowed by the federal government, as companies rushed to get manufacturing technology (including robotics) purchased and installed and running by the end of 2011. In 2012, that depreciation “went from a very favorable 100% to a still helpful 50% bonus depreciation,” commented Jeff Mengel of Plante & Moran. “I think the change pushed January sales into December.”

According to the RIA’s Bernstein, “Robot suppliers and integrators told us they were running full-out to meet customer demand and one of the limiting factors was a shortage of qualified application engineers and other technical people needed to develop and integrate new applications.”

Toray Plastics develops new heat-sealable BOPP film

Toray Plastics Inc. has developed a new Torayfan F63W heat-sealable BOPP film with improved bonding for ink adhesion, the company stated.

Franco Chicarella, product manager for the Torayfan polypropylene film division, told PlasticsToday the company developed the new film at the request of its customers who wanted an OPP print web that was compatible with a wider range of the water and solvent-based inks that are commonly used for package printing.

He said the film's improved bonding gives CPG's and converters greater latitude, enabling them to work with practically any type and color of ink.

"The new F63W film is a heat-sealable, coextruded print film with good co-efficient of friction (CoF), seal properties, and printability," he said. "The film is unique in that it achieves a high level of performance for all key film properties and processes."

The F63W film is a drop-in replacement for any lap-sealable package, he said. Its balance of CoF and low seal-initiation temperature allow it to run at high speeds on any vertical form-fill-seal equipment. The film also offers end-users and converters the ability to increase manufacturing output, the company stated.

"The print-receptive layer allow for stronger ink bonds and improved wet out with a wider range of chemistries," Chicarella said. "Superior ink adhesion on the printed side of the web means that the finished piece is likely to convey the graphic messaging in a manner that will attract and please the consumer."

Applications for the new F63W film include consumer packaging items such as salty snacks, baked goods, crackers, cookies, and confectionery items.

"Compare the packages in the photo, and it's evident that not all packaging films print the same," Chicarella said. The inset on the right shows ink that adhered very well to the package and reproduced tight dots, as compared with the inset on the left, which shows weak dots."

Toray Plastics is manufacturer of polyester, polypropylene, and bio-based films for flexible and rigid packaging, lidding, graphic, industrial, optical, and electronic applications. The company is a subsidiary of Toray Industries Inc.

New California facility recycles 2 billion plastic bottles a year

New California facility recycles 2 billion plastic bottles a year

For years, society operated with a cradle-to-grave mentality where products were created, used, and then thrown away. 

Neville Browne believes it's time to bury the cradle-to-grave way of thinking for plastic bottles, and replace it with a cradle-to-cradle approach.

"Anyone making a plastic bottle today should have a cradle-to-cradle mentality," Browne, president of CarbonLite, told PlasticsToday. "We cannot keep taking virgin resources and just dispose of it. There are better ways."

Browne, and his business partner Leon Farahnik, founded CarbonLite, one of the world's largest post-consumer plastic bottle recycling facilities devoted to producing bottle-grade raw material that can then be used to make new plastic beverage bottles. Located in Riverside, CA, the recently opened 220,000 sq-ft plant will recover more than 2 billion plastic PET bottles annually from California's curbside and redemption value programs.

This process can help conserve virgin resources, reduce landfill waste, and capitalize on the energy already invested in making existing plastic products, the company stated.

Previously, most plastic bottles collected in California were exported to China and downcycled into polyester fiber. CarbonLite seeks to change this cycle, and keep the resources in the U.S.

Products made using PET resin are recyclable and sustainable, as PET can be recycled numerous times, turning bottles back into bottles, the company stated. The PET resin offered by CarbonLite will have been processed using a method that has received an LNO (letter of non-objection) from the FDA, allowing it to be used at levels up to 100% recycled content in the manufacture of PET bottles and containers for direct contact with all food types under cold fill and hot fill conditions.

Recycling 2 billion PET bottles a year will also avoid the need for the 48 million gallons of gas that would be required to make new bottles from virgin plastic, according to CarbonLite. The company plans to double capacity to more than 4 billion bottles a year in mid-2013.

The PET bottles are collected through curbside programs and deposit collection centers where the used bottles arrive at the Riverside facility in bales. It is then segregated by type and color, washed, and chopped into corn flake-like material. The flakes will go through a decontamination process to satisfy FDA requirements, and CarbonLite will produce pellets from these purified flakes. These pellets are in turn used as a direct substitute for virgin material in all PET applications including food-grade packaging.

PepsiCo and Nestlé Waters have already signed on with the CarbonLite system to help achieve sustainability goals.  

"I think brands are very keen on the bottle-to-bottle recycling situation because it gives them the perfect answer to the environmental question," he said. "Everyone wants to see it work out."

CarbonLite has plans to eventually open a bottle-to-bottle recycling facility on the East Coast. Browne said he hopes to see more facilities like this all across the country.

"We believe this is where the future is heading, and that's why we have invested in this business," Browne said. "We can't image being wrong about that."

On-floor technology theater gives encore performance at NPE2012

Returning in 2012 after a successful premiere at NPE2009, the on-floor Technology Theater will be back in Orlando with 36 sessions spread from Monday through Thursday of show week (April 2-5; Orange County Convention Center; Orlando). The Technology Theater is located in the middle of the south hall between booths 43039 and 35039 on a 20-ft-wide aisle, with companies like Braskem America, DuPont, Plasmatreat, Teknor Apex, and others presenting.

Presentations run every 30 minutes from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm every show day. On Monday, topics include open air plasma, sugarcane-based polyolefins, and non-contact infrared measurement. On Tuesday, sessions cover everything from adhesion of liquid silicone rubber to medical grade polymers to automated blowmolder control. On Wednesday, DuPont takes on renewably sourced long-chain polyamides, with other presentations looking at a virtuous circle for agricultural containers and a new era in packaging, while on the final day of the show, Thursday, presenters will discuss the architecture of the future of plastics, an dautomotive plastics compounding, among other topics.

These targeted presentations run throughout each day right on the show floor and entrance is included with your Expo Pass. No separate fees or registration are required, just stop in. To see who’s discussing what, when, go to MyShow Planner on www.npe.org. Tech Theater is an “Event Type” that you can search/filter by.
 

Arburg Energy Efficiency Award 2012 goes to Continental

The fifth Arburg Energy Efficiency Award, presented during a ceremony on the evening before the start of the injection molding machine manufacturer’s annual “Technology Days” open house event, went this year to leading automotive supplier, Continental Automotive. 

The company, described by Michael Hehl, managing partner and spokesperson for the Arburg management team, as an “enterprise that consistently pursued environmental objectives,” has long viewed energy saving and energy efficiency as a priority—a decisive factor in Arburg’s choice of Continental as this year’s winner. “Each year since 2008, we have shown our appreciation for a company that excels on account of its corporate philosophy and activities in the field of energy efficiency. For us, it is important that the winner, like us, takes an innovative, holistic and global approach to the topic of energy efficiency,” said Hehl.

Karlheinz Boguslawski, production manager at Continental Automotive in Babenhausen, accepted the award on behalf of the company. “This recognition is a further encouragement to us to use environmentally compatible products in the manufacture of innovative products,” he said. “Around the world, a key concern for Continental is the responsible use of resources and energy in all its various aspects during the manufacture of our products.” He pointed out that some 15% of the energy consumed at the plant in Babenhausen goes into the production of plastic products. The aim is to reduce power consumption for each plastic part produced by at least 10%. The choice of processing machine—and machine supplier—can make a big difference in this area. 

According to Arburg’s Managing Director for technology, Herbert Kraibühler, the collaboration between Arburg and Continental was “extremely close and intensive,” as the companies together strove to achieve the cost-efficient production of an advanced optical part with extreme demands in terms of part quality, availability and the minimization of rejects. “Our cooperation is built on a very high level of mutual trust in terms of the exchange of information, which was a prerequisite for the success of this project,” he said.

The project concerned the latest generation of head-up display in the Audi A6, containing free-space mirrors with tolerances of a few thousandths.

Continental's worldwide energy management program is characterized by clear targets for reducing consumption, and, in this respect, has much in common with Arburg. Between 2009 and 2010, the Continental Automotive Group succeeded in increasing energy efficiency by 16% in relation to the volume of components manufactured. Said Boguslawski: “At Continental, we believe the best energy is the energy that never gets consumed.”

Almac expands pharmaceutical packaging operations in the U.S.

The Almac Group has expanded its commercial pharmaceutical packaging operations with a $10 million investment in a new 100,000 sq-ft commercial facility in Audubon, PA.

The Almac Group is based in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, and has U.S. operations in North Carolina, California, and Pennsylvania. The company's services include R&D, biomarker discovery and development, API manufacture, formulation development and clinical trial supply, as well as packaging.

Bringing more than 30 years of commercial packaging experience from its MHRA/FDA-approved UK facilities, the new packaging facility will serve U.S. clients of Almac's pharmaceutical services business unit. Previously, the company had packaged products for U.S. customers from its UK facility.

David Downey, VP commercial operations for Almac, told PlasticsToday this strategic step will allow the company to offer packaging services to the local U.S. marketplace, while providing cost savings and mitigating supply chain risks.

"Clients can now leverage our expertise from a local U.S. based operation," he said. "In addition, the new U.S. facility is in somewhat of a hub for pharmacy."

The facility will support the packaging and labeling of both solid oral dose drug products and sterile biopharmaceutical products. Key pieces of technology include a "high-speed" blister line, a bottling line, and wallet presses, along with secondary labeling and packaging of biopharmaceutical products such as vials and ampoules, according to the company.

In addition, there will be teams for package design and artwork management and in-house tooling fabrication, Downey said. The facility will also offer refrigerated and controlled drug storage.

The facility is anticipated to open in Fall 2012, and will staff around 40 employees, with the potential to grow, Downey said.

"We are delighted to be able to invest in new facilities and establish operations in the U.S.," Graeme McBurney, Almac pharma services president and managing director, stated in a press release. "With the alignment of our packaging processes at both our UK and U.S. sites, we offer the highest levels of customer service and continuity of supply, through a flexible and quality lead operation."

PE, PP up $0.01/lb; Natural gas hits new contract low; Gas: Crude gap hits record

Polyethylene and polypropylene each added $0.01/lb reflecting some faith in March contract price increase efforts, but enthusiasm has begun to wane, according to The Plastics Exchange (TPE). Spot plastics trading was about average last week as a steady stream of resin offers flowed, albeit at higher asking prices while demand seemed a little soft. PE producers are generally just seeking to complete their $0.06/lb increase, half of which was implemented in February, although increases of up to $0.10/lb are out there. Polymer grade propylene (PGP) monomer and PP contracts were initially nominated up $0.15/lb, similar to the $0.165/lb increase achieved in February, but the March increase was re-nominated at $0.07/lb and then ultimately settled up just a nickel last week.TPE Resin Prices, March 9, 2012

Energy markets diverged, with crude oil rising while natural gas fell further. April crude oil futures added $0.70/bbl to finish at $107.40/bbl. Natural gas futures continued to unravel, losing another $0.16/mmBtu to settle at $2.324/mmBtu on Friday, a new contract low. The crude oil : natural gas price ratio expanded to an all-time record above 46:1.

Ethylene maintained its strength through last Wednesday, but then gave way to end the week 6% lower. Material for March delivery transacted a few times at $0.685/lb in the more active Williams systems but then fell $0.04/lb to $0.645/lb after a cracker returned back on-stream from a temporary disruption. Several other crackers, representing more than 10% of total capacity, remain offline for planned maintenance. The forward curve is priced to reflect major relief in the 3rd quarter, where ethylene has transacted at $0.57/lb, the 4th quarter is a bit lower still. Ethane rallied more than 10% to end the week around $0.59/gal, equating to almost $0.25/lb, which shrunk ethylene margins to about $0.40/lb, while shifting the margins further up the chain between natural gas and ethane.

Polyethylene (PE) spot prices pushed a penny higher, but it was not a very impressive showing considering that $0.03 -$0.10/lb of price increases on the table, noted TPE CEO Michael Greenberg. After three months of strong buying, which added to downstream resin inventories ahead of first quarter price increases, domestic demand pulled back sharply in February, coming in about 150 million lb below the 12-month average. Rising U.S. resin prices have also disengaged the high-volume spot arbitrage in the export market, generating a second month in a row of lax export sales at just above 550 million lb. So despite reduced PE production, a shade less than 90% of capacity during February, collective producer inventories swelled by about 160 million lb to 3.1 billion lb, creating a more than 30-day supply. TPE said that while the market is not awash in resin, spot supplies for most grades of PE can be sourced in both truckloads and railcars. Although it is still early in the month, market conditions might challenge the current price increase initiative, especially beyond the $0.03/lb balance remaining from February.

Propylene's upward trek in spot monomer has stalled, with PGP for March delivery transacting a few times at or just below the $0.755-$0.76/lb level seen the week before. March PGP contracts settled on the low end of the range, up only $0.05/lb to  $0.775/lb. Spot PGP was then offered lower - at $0.7475/lb. April PGP was priced a tad higher that March, but still below current contracts, which is an indication that the PGP rally could be running its course. Do note that while the market appears to have found some equilibrium, supplies will remain tight as there is another round of crackers to be turned around in April / May, so the monomer market could make another run higher. March refinery grade propylene (RGP) traded at $0.695/lb, up a half-cent week over week.

Polypropylene (PP) spot prices edged up another cent, as March PP contracts settled with a relatively modest $0.05/lb increase, much less than the $0.15/lb initially sought and even softer than the $0.07/lb subsequently nominated. "It is a small consolation to resin buyers that already endured a $0.165/lb hike in February," Greenberg pointed out. The spike in February prices contributed to weaker domestic demand, which was off nearly 10% in February from the trailing 3-month average. PP producers, recognizing the weak demand ran their reactors light, estimated at just 83.5% of capacity and were able to keep their inventories thin at just over 1.5 billion lb. Contract buyers should expect to pay in the higher $0.80s/lb for prime homopolymer railcars, while those processors that can use offgrade material or prime in truckloads can find significant savings in the spot market.

Final thought from Michael Greenberg

Although average commodity grade resin prices added a penny this past week, market sentiment seems to be less bullish (but not negative). The PP increase settled at a nickel, just a third of what was nominated. At the moment it seems that Polyethylene producers will be hard-pressed to increase contracts beyond the $0.03/lb remaining on the Feb increase, which is also not a slam dunk. Processors are working down hefty inventories accumulated from aggressive purchases before the increases, and exports are still running light. Although there are still a couple solid months still remaining in the cracker maintenance season, eventually the light will be seen from the other side of the tunnel.

Green Matter: Burning life issues

Confusion about bioplastics is rife, and very peculiar notions about these materials abound. With sustainability at the forefront of so many business agendas these days—a quick look a the number of sessions devoted to the subject by the NPE and ANTEC this year will show just how prominent a theme this has become—a very brief review of what bioplastics are, and, especially are not, seems in order. 

The first bioplastics, while not very successful as commercial materials, were nonetheless hailed with—in retrospect—touching naivety as the ultimate solution to plastic waste. The end of life was simple: they would degrade and disappear. Goodbye, toxic emissions when burned, goodbye litter, goodbye landfill problem; nature would take care of the problem. 

And from then on, things began to get complicated. 

In the first place, it rapidly became clear that the term ‘bioplastics’ needed further clarification. Soon, we had biobased materials, biodegradable materials, compostable materials, recyclable biomaterials, and various combinations of all of the above.

As it turns out, materials that are biodegradable are not necessarily compostable. According to the FTC Green Guide, a product or package qualifies as biodegradable if it “completely breaks down and returns to nature, decomposing into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.” 

For products to qualify as certified compostable, all the materials in the product or package must “break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost in a safe and timely manner in an appropriate composting program or facility, or in a home compost pile or device.” In other words, it’s a controlled biodegradation process. The big problem is that not all biodegradable products will degrade in a “timely” manner, making them unsuitable for composting, and some will disintegrate into elements that are unacceptable in compost, likewise rendering them composting no-no’s. 

Compounding the problem, there are biomaterials that can be industrially composted, but not home composted, which means that efficient collection systems are needed to make sure these materials end up taking the appropriate end-of-life route. Yet deciding which route is the right one can also be a challenge. PLA, for example, can be industrially composted—sometimes. Heat-resistant PLA is not compostable. It can, however, be chemically recycled into lactic acid. For that matter, so can regular PLA. The point is, the infrastructure for an adequate recovery of PLA is largely absent—as it is for the handling of all bioplastics. An entire recovery infrastructure is needed for the collection, sorting, composting, or recycling of these materials. To date, such facilities are woefully lacking.

And then there’s the uncomfortable fact that non-compostable biodegradable materials generally won’t biodegrade in landfills, as landfill conditions fail to provide exposure to the sunlight, air, and moisture needed for degradation to occur. This is intentional, to avoid side effects of degradation such as ground water pollution, methane gas emissions, and unstable soil conditions. What it actually means is that, contrary to what is commonly believed, these materials are going nowhere.

A further confusing issue is the emergence of the so-called biobased materials, defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as follows: A material is an organic material in which carbon is derived from a renewable resource via biological processes. Biobased materials include all plant and animal mass derived from CO2 recently fixed via photosynthesis, per definition a renewable resource. 

However, materials carrying the label biobased do not necessarily contain only renewable resources. And biobased materials are not per definition biodegradable. In fact, they are very likely not to be. These materials generally end up either being recycled or incinerated. 

In short, when talking about these materials, in particular regarding their end-of-life options, it’s important to understand that not all bio(based) plastics are created equal. Yet what is even more important is to understand that the point about bioplastics is not their end of life, but their life itself. 

Bioplastics are increasingly a viable proposition. After all, plants are a renewable feedstock. Petroleum is not. Next to offering a way to reduce our chronic dependence on petroleum, many bio-based feedstocks have fewer problems with price volatility, compared to oil. Moreover, the industry is rapidly moving away from food crops toward the use of waste and inedible biomass. Also, reports from the European Bioplastics association say that life-cycle analyses show that bioplastics can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30%-70% compared with petroleum-based plastics.

Bioplastics can indeed offer a valuable alternative to conventional plastic materials. It’s time to take them seriously and to create the necessary conditions and facilities to apply the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover to these materials, as well. In some cases, thermal recycling, aka incineration, may well even offer the best option.

The real waste is to sit around and hope they’ll magically fall apart.

New designs focus on improved catheter operations

Made from Carbothane aliphatic, polycarbonate-based thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the new catheter is intended to provide long-term vascular access for hemodialysis treatment with high flow rates, low recirculation and no loss of performance upon reversal of the hemodialysis lines.

Phase One Medical's focus is on development of chronic hemodialysis catheters that will reduce high rates of complications and cost associated with catheter use. Approximately two million patients worldwide receive hemodialysis three times a week via the vascular system. According to Phase One Medical, which was formed in 2001, up to 30% of those patients receive their vascular access through the use of chronic hemodialysis catheters.

It is estimated that reversing the lines is necessary in 20% to 30% of treatments, making equal line function critical to achieving optimal dialysis results. The new design employs advanced fluid dynamics to balance and stabilize the distal tip during flow in an effort to minimize the complication of wall suction often associated with chronic catheter use.

The ReversusHemodialysis Catheter is not yet for sale, but Phase One Medical expects to receive FDA clearance early 2013.

"We are excited to be working with Pelham Plastics to scale-up production of our hemodialysis catheter," said Don Woods, a partner at Phase One Medical. "This also aligns with our commitment to select and work with US-based manufacturing partners."

Its first product, the EN Snare Endovascular Snare System was developed with Hatch Medical and was acquired by Merit Medical Systems in June 2009. Its second product,  Medical Device Anchor Technology, integrates the super elastic material properties of nitinol with proprietary anchoring design elements. The technology was acquired by Nitinol Devices and Components, Inc (NDC) in 2009.

In 2010, Phase One added in-house micro-machining and micro-molding capabilities to accelerate product commercialization. Last year, the company received an order to provide the distal tip component for a new peripheral and biliary stent delivery system.

In another development, United States patent 8,007,488 provides multiple methods for closing the distal end of a catheter upon completing a hemodialysis session.

"Offering the potential for long-term product exclusivity in the sizable hemodialysis market, this patent adds tremendous value and importance to Phase One Medical's intellectual property portfolio," said Adrian Ravenscroft, also a partner of Phase One Medical.

The design elements of this "locking" catheter give personnel who administer dialysis the ability to seal or "lock" the tip of the catheter when needed. That removes the potential of solution migrating into the body.