When it comes to medtech, advancements in materials appear to be keeping pace with the devices for which they’re intended. While the following isn’t intended to be comprehensive in scope, it is nonetheless impressive in terms of the capabilities these materials represent.

Adhesives Research (AR) (adhesivesresearch.com) announced its engineered medical fiber technology to enable new design possibilities for wound healing, implantable devices, and medical textiles. ARmicron engineered medical fiber technology is made possible through AR’s unique melt spin process known as high-definition micro-extrusion (HDME). Through this process, monofilament, multifilament, and fine denier fibers are manufactured to each client’s unique specifications from a wide range of select biocompatible, nonresorbable or bioresorbable polymers with tailored physical properties. This technology enables the development of multicomponent fibers with highly resolved internal domains or external submicron surface architectural definitions that may be beneficial for directional cellular ingrowth.

Bayer MaterialScience (materialscience.bayer.com) recently expanded its line of Bayblend PC/ABS materials. M303 FR is a nonreinforced, flame-retardant, amorphous, thermoplastic polymer blend of PC and ABS for extrusion, blow molding, and thermoforming. It can be used in surface device applications contacting intact skin. Meanwhile, M750 PC/ABS meets manufacturers’ needs for more ductile materials used in medical electronics or devices. Certain drug delivery devices would reportedly benefit from the material’s lower stiffness, which is supplied in pellet form for processing by injection molding.

Bluestar Silicones (bluestarsilicones.com) has expanded its range of Silbione liquid silicone rubber (LSR) products for the healthcare market with a one-durometer LSR and a self-lubricating 60-durometer LSR. Both specialty products incorporate the advantages of Bluestar’s established LSR product line, including easy processing, easy release, and high-performance physical properties. The 1 Shore A hardness product, Silbione LSR 4301, is said to combine strong physical properties and easy processing in a low-durometer material. The product rounds out the company’s -05 and -10 ShA soft LSR range, delivering high tear strength and high elongation for soft cushioning and vibration dampening applications.

MEVOPUR masterbatches by Clariant (clariant.com) now incorporate the the MedX silver product series from SANITIZED AG, extending the antimicrobial options for the medical device market. Incorporating the antimicrobial protection directly in the polymer removes the need for device manufacturers to undertake a secondary antimicrobial coating operation on their medical devices. In addition it reduces the risk associated with delamination of the coating. The in-built antimicrobial function can be combined with other functionality. For example, in catheter designs Clariant proposes that the antimicrobial functionality be incorporated into a multilayer structure including an identifying color, radiopacity, and friction reduction.

Tritan copolyester for blood therapy surgical and blood management devices by Eastman Chemical Company (eastman.com/tritan) is a new generation copolyester that offers excellent clarity and durability to blood therapy devices. Tritan is also free of bisphenol A. The material reportedly has the potential to eliminate the secondary annealing step required to reduce potential stress cracking issues that often occur with PC. Additionally, the mateiral’s toughness means less stress and strains that are common during secondary operations as well as the reduced potential for devices breaking during shipping. An additional benefit of Tritan copolyester is said to be its chemical resistance, which allows devices to maintain their aesthetics and functionality after exposure to blood, lipids, and aggressive disinfectants. And the material retains glasslike transparency after gamma or electron beam radiation and sterilization with ethylene oxide gas. The device clarity allows healthcare practitioners easier detection of air bubbles, blood clotting, and leakage.

Tecothane Soft is a low-density hydrophobic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) technology by Lubizol (lubrizol.com) for medical and healthcare applications. The technology reportedly eliminates the need for plasticizers to produce softer grades of material. In addition, these TPUs exhibit relatively low tack with reduced amounts of lubricant.

The company also announced that its Isoplast TPU resins are now available in several grades of precolored white for nonimplantable applications. The company is also working with customers to evaluate additional colors for use in key markets. Isoplast TPUs are said to be highly engineered rigid plastics that combine the toughness and dimensional stability of amorphous resins with the superior performance and chemical resistance associated with semicrystalline resins. The material is available in impact-modified, clear, and glass-reinforced resins.

Duraglide dry lubricant coatings are applied to medical devices to overcome assembly and component movement problems associated with stacked tolerances. They reportedly reduce actuation forces to heighten functionality and usability of the finished device. MicroCare Medical (microcare medical.com) innovations include its Swellex and Swellex-P swelling agents. The former is absorbed into silicone, and Swellex-P, which is absorbed into polyurethane. Both expand their intended materials to a desired dimension, allowing for easy assembly to the fitting or rigid part. The swelling agents then quickly evaporate and return the silicone or polyurethane component to their original sizes to create secure connections without adhesives. Another MicroCare Medical innovation is its Duraglide dry lubricant coatings, which are applied to medical devices to overcome assembly and component movement problems associated with stacked tolerances. They reportedly reduce actuation forces to heighten functionality and usability of the finished device.

MEO-6671 by NuSil Technology LLC (nusil.com) is a room- temperature curable coating that reportedly decreases the coefficient of friction of a cured silicone surface. The material was designed to overcome obstacles in applications in which silicones come in contact with each other, such as precision molded parts, molded rubber stoppers, or O-rings.

Silicone elastomers inherently have a high degree of surface tack and a tendency for blocking (sticking to themselves by virtue of chemical affinity), which may cause problems in applications in which these materials come in contact with each other or other surfaces. The material is a one-part, low-coefficient of friction silicone coating dispersed in tert-butyl acetate. Once cured, the coating chemically bonds to the silicone elastomer substrate, mimicking its mechanical properties, resulting in a smooth finish with a durable, yet flexible coating that resists abrasion from moving, sliding and rubbing parts.