The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the urgent need for medical supplies – which included medical disposables, medical devices, laboratory equipment, and many others. As COVID-19 continues to affect many countries around the world despite vaccination efforts, the medical and healthcare sector continuously eyes the latest trends and innovations to enhance the production of medical products and supplies. These products also need to comply with stringent regulations on safety and efficacy that many manufacturers are keeping their production set-up updated.
The ASEAN Medical Device Manufacturing Technology Summit, a virtual event held on September 29, 2021 is the second edition of Ringier Events’ successful summit on medical device and supplies production. This year, the Summit took on the more pressing issues concerning the requirements of the medical sector for high-performance plastic materials and innovative technologies to support the manufacture of medical devices. Hence, the virtual event gathers experts in material solutions and plastic processing, plus those knowledgeable in the fields of mould design and development, 3D printing, medical disposables manufacturing, engineering plastics for medical applications, and more.
The Summit was supported by the Malaysia Medical Device Manufacturers Association and the Die and Mould Association of the Philippines, with Celanese Corporation and IEMCA as business partners. Participants at this event include medical professionals, producers of medical devices/supplies, industry associations’ representatives and other stakeholders.
Meeting the medical sector’s urgent needs
There are numerous developments in the production of medical devices and supplies that serve to highlight the key role of plastics for medical applications. The guest speakers offered interesting updates on the market, the production techniques and regulatory requirements that enable plastics to take its special place in the healthcare/medical sector.
The rising demand for in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) device and point-of-care was discussed by Mr. Derek Lua, Marketing Manager for Healthcare Solutions for Asia at Avient Color & Additives Business Unit. Mr. Lua stressed how medical how medical grade plastic solutions can add value to the production of in-vitro diagnostic medical devices which include a range of products and services to determine diseases or body functions through testing and clinical diagnosis of human samples (e.g. blood, mucus). IVD includes applications such as molecular diagnostic devices, immunoassay, point-of-care testing, laboratory consumables, etc. He mentioned that the APAC market is the top performing region for IVD with 4.4% annual growth from 2019-2024 to reach US$22.4 billion.
Citing the challenges in IVD production, Mr. Lua provided some of the Avient solutions to producers of IVD and several case studies. Avient offers specialised and sustainable materials for diverse industries and one of them is for the medical sector. Its MEVOPUR™ custom colours and functional solutions meet the requirements of the IVD producers by overcoming the production challenges faced by IVD manufacturers.
The presentation by Dr. Jerome Palaganas, CEO of Nanotronics, Inc. provided an overview of the latest technology and innovations as applied in the medical plastic industry. As he mentioned, there are different types of materials currently being used in the sector such as thermoplastics, thermosets, silicone, etc., depending on the medical supplies being produced. Prominent areas where plastic materials are preferred include general medical supplies, diagnostic and surgical equipment, ENT such as hearing aids, orthopedics such as for joints, drug delivery systems such as implants that can delivery drugs to the target, dental such as dental implant, cardiovascular applications. He also tackled the major trends in polymer materials selection for medical devices and the technologies that are being applied for the production of these products, such as 3D printing and nanotechnology.
The application of high-performance engineering plastics in the medical field was discussed by Mr. Kelvin Lim, Manager, Field Development of Celanese Corporation. In this presentation, Mr. Lim stressed the importance of liquid crystal polymers (LCP) in the production of medical devices. While LCPs are well known in the consumer electronics industry, it is now being applied in the production of medical devices as many OEMs now aim to produce medical devices that are smaller and lighter in weight – targets that are being met by LCPs.
Enhancing productivity and safety
Raising productivity and compliance with regulatory standards are among the objectives of medical devices producers. Equipment available today are responding to these goals.
The technical presentation on precise feeding for medical workpiece was discussed by Mr. Edward Tsai, Sales Manager, Overseas at IEMCA. IEMCA designs and produces automatic bar feeders since 1961 and today it is the worldwide leader for every type of application for lathes, machining centres, grindings, gear cutters, and other types of machine tools. The range of IEMCA products dedicated to the turning industry is the widest available in the market and includes automatic bar feeders for single-spindle lathes with fixed and sliding headstocks, for bars up to 20 feet long, diameters between 0.8 mm and 100 mm and beyond, as well as solutions for multi-spindle lathes with up to 8 spindles, and also integrated bar feeders and automatic retrofitting bar feeders for stock reel. IEMCA offers a range of highly qualified services throughout the world, thanks to its global presence.
Dr. Joseph Ross Jocson, President of 23 RML Builders, a Philippine-based manufacturer of medical devices including face masks under the Klin brand, provided an overview on the regulatory requirements for the production of facemasks and other medical devices. He touched on the various safety requirements for the production of medical devices citing the experience of 23 RML Builders as a case study in meeting the demand for quality sanitation and hygienic products especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The role of innovative tools and moulds and how these see vast opportunities in the medical field was presented by Mr. Jimmy Chan, an expert in moulds and tools who serves as Trustee of the Philippine Die and Mold Association (PDMA). Mr. Chan’s presentation highlighted the trends and latest technologies in mould design and production and how these can impact the overall product quality especially for medical devices. For more information on Ringier Events, visit: www.ringierevents.com
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