Most of the new materials on display at the MD&M West show in Anaheim, Calif. last week were developed to fight disease, especially the infections that hospital staff and patients are getting in large numbers. Many of the new plastics have been developed with antimicrobial properties.
Nearly all of them also deal with the harsher chemicals used today for disinfecting surfaces. In the fight against hospital-acquired infections, these harsher chemicals can damage plastics and other surfaces of medical equipment housings or enclosures not made to withstand them, Bruce Fine, Bayer MaterialScience's market segment leader for medical and consumer products, told Design News. The result can be unappealing surface changes, and worse, stress failures.
Plastics suppliers are also getting more requests for their materials to survive various sterilization environments. This year, many of the materials I saw on the show floor can withstand multiple sterilization processes, including those that depend on high-temperature steam, chemicals, gamma irradiation, or chemical methods.
DuPont Performance Polymers is getting more inquiries for information about materials content, due to more awareness of regulatory information, Diana Salvadori, North America healthcare manager, told us. There's also more concern among molders and OEMs about change management in all stages of the supply chain. Changes in raw materials content, additives, or manufacturing processes at the raw materials supplier can mean further testing will be needed downstream, she said.
Click on the image below to see some of the innovative materials introduced on the show floor.
- Ceramic Matrix Composites LEAP to High Volumes
- Engineering Plastics Get Tough, Lightweight
- Materials Spotlighted at Design & Manufacturing Show
- Slideshow: Plastic Can Protect Astronauts
- Slideshow: Plastics Are Fighting Disease
- Ceramics Moving Into Jet Engines
- Video: Fish Slime Makes Tough, Silk-Like Fiber
- Self-Healing Gel Could Replace Cartilage
- Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives Dress Wounds
- Bayer's Medical-Grade Plastics Aid Surgeons
- Plastics, Adhesives & Coatings Miniaturize Products