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Medical plastics meet demand for customised devices

Source:International Plastics News for Asia     Date:2022-10-18
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High performance plastics for medical application remains one of the fastest-growing segments of the global plastics industry. The global high performance medical plastics market size is on the rise – US$851 million in 2021 to US$1.242 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 7.8% during the forecast period 2021-2026, according to Markets and Markets. The growing use of advanced medical technologies, such as 3D printed implants and customised devices, is one of the major factors propelling the growth of the high performance medical plastics market.


Based on application, the high performance medical plastics market has been segmented into medical supplies, medical equipment & tools, prosthesis & implants, drug delivery, therapeutic system, and others. Prosthesis & implants is the fastest growing application segment of the high performance medical plastics market during the forecast period. High performance medical plastics used in the manufacturing of prosthetics include PEEK, PAI, and PPSU. Implants are mainly used in fixation, fracture plates, and filling purposes. PEEK, PPSU, and fluoropolymers like PTFE are used in the manufacturing of implants. Development of patient-specific implants & 3D printing is expected to drive the market growth for this segment during the forecasted period, according to the report.

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ACTEGA’s ProvaMed® TPE for medical tubes application.

Material selection for medical tube applications

Highly-transparent, flexible, kink-resistant, sterilisable, PVC- and plasticiser-free, customised, ACTEGA’s ProvaMed® TPE portfolio is among the highlights of its presence at K 2022.  In the growth market for medical tubes, where the trend is moving away from off-the-shelf tubes towards customised tube applications, ACTEGA has further improved the formulations for its ProvaMed® portfolio – based on new styrene elastomers – to meet the key requirements placed on medical tubing as well as special customer requirements. For example, the TPE formulations display an excellent degree of transparency. This is an important factor wherever the flow of fluids needs to be highly visible or the position of the tubing in the body must be visible and traceable – using X-ray contrasting strips. The high-purity, transparent and elastic material is smooth, flexible and kink-resistant. This means nothing stands in the way of the unimpeded flow of gases or liquids.


Other important points include good recovery behaviour and damping properties, enabling hoses to return to their original shape after deformation, for example. These are indispensable properties for the development of catheter hoses or peristaltic pumps. According to the Drug Master File, the compounds have been approved in accordance with USPVI and ISO 10993 and are free of PVC, silicone, latex and plasticisers. This also means that they are entirely allergen-free and any interaction between tubing material and pharmaceutical or endogenous substances, which could have an adverse effect on the human organism, can be avoided. Like the entire ProvaMed® portfolio, the formulations are sterilisable with gamma radiation or ethylene oxide and can be processed by extrusion, coextrusion or, in some cases, injection-moulding.


PEEK filament for 3D printed implants

As a company offering medical plastics for implants, Evonik has further expanded its portfolio of 3D-printable biomaterials for medical technology: The specialty chemicals company has developed VESTAKEEP® iC4800 3DF, an osteoconductive PEEK filament that improves fusion between bone and implants. The high-performance polymer can be processed in common extrusion-based 3D printing technologies such as fused filament fabrication (FFF). This product was introduced for the first time by Evonik at the AAOS trade show in Chicago, USA in March 2022. 


This PEEK filament is a biomaterial from Evonik's VESTAKEEP® Fusion product line launched in 2020. The high-performance polymer impresses with excellent biocompatibility and biostability as well as improved osteoconductive properties. The osteoconductivity was achieved by using a functional special additive - biphasic calcium phosphate (BCP). The BCP additive allows bone cells to adhere to implants more quickly, thus positively influencing the boundary, so called osteointegration, between the bone and the implant. This, in turn, will accelerate bone fusion and thus patient recovery.


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Evonik launches osteoconductive VESTAKEEP® Fusion 

PEEK filament for 3D printed implants.


VESTAKEEP® iC4800 3DF was developed for use in the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technology. With a diameter of 1.75 mm, the PEEK filament in natural colour is wound onto 250 gram or 500 gram spools. They can be used directly in standard FFF 3D printers for PEEK materials. Tests on various 3D printers as well as customer feedback confirm excellent processability of Evonik’s new filament. Furthermore, VESTAKEEP® iC4800 3DF has been specially designed so that the functional additives are available directly on the surface of the 3D printed implant without further post-processing steps - a novelty for osteointegrative PEEK biomaterials. Like all products of the Fusion range, VESTAKEEP® iC4800 is manufactured under strict quality management for biomaterials.


"No other application field showcases more the classic advantages of 3D printing, such as individualisation or design freedom, than medical technology," says Marc Knebel, Head of Medical Systems at Evonik. "Since the product launch of the first PEEK filament a good three years ago, we have been expanding the possibilities of modern medical technology in the individual treatment of patients using additive manufacturing by constantly developing new innovative biomaterials."


Evonik has been the world's leading manufacturer of high-performance polymers for additive manufacturing technologies for more than 20 years. The specialty chemicals company offers the industry's most extensive portfolio of 3D-printable biomaterials for medical technology, which can be used to manufacture medical device parts designed for temporary and permanent body contact. In addition to VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF and VESTAKEEP® Care M40 3DF, the portfolio includes the RESOMER® line of bioresorbable filaments, powders and granules for implantable medical devices.  


- This article also appears in the International Plastics News for Asia - October issue. To read the magazine, click here.

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