Arkema, the producer of Pebax, declared a force majeure on Pebax last month because a fatal explosion March 31 dramatically cut supplies of CDT, a chemical used to make Pebax and nylon 12. Foster Corp. (Putnam, CT) is the exclusive North American distributor of Pebax MED.
"We're trying to provide everybody's needs 100% based on historical requirements and allow for some additional new development on a case-by-case basis," Acquarulo said. "Is there enough for automotive, absolutely not, but there is enough for medical, which consumes less than 10% of the total volume. Supplies will be available if customers can help us manage the inventory levels."
Arkema announced last week in an interview with PlasticsToday that life-saving medical applications would be given priority over automotive because of the lengthy time, approximately 12 months, required to qualify new materials for medical applications.
Pebax is a thermoplastic elastomer made up of block copolymers consisting of a sequence of polyamide (nylon) and polyether segments. It is sole-sourced in the manufacturing of balloon catheters used to open blood vessels close to the heart.
Larry Acquarulo also told PlasticsToday that there will be some allowance for growth in demand based on recent history.
"The market tends to grow 5% a year and that is pretty consistent. We are making accommodations for that growth."
Evonik hopes to get its German CDT plant back into production by the end of the year.