Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical caps, booties, surgical gowns, and face masks, protects medical professionals from a range of health and safety risks. To develop effective PPE, manufacturers utilize spunbond fibers, which remain stable during processing and maintain the micro-fiber structure that delivers fine pore size in nonwoven sheets. Antioxidants for polyolefins and other plastics facilitate fiber consistency with reduced filament breakage during polymer processing and enable smaller pores between fibers for better high-performance filtration required for essential medical applications. Solvay’s portfolio of antioxidants for sterile medical applications is formulated to improve the stability of polymeric materials and promote consistent melt viscosity in polymers to meet the evolving needs of PPE manufacturers. 

 

The Need for Antioxidants in Medical Processing

Antioxidants can be a valuable addition to any polymeric material to reduce degradation and support efficient manufacturing. These polymer additives are essential in medical applications, improving product reliability by enabling the polymer to remain stable and sufficiently breathable to prevent the transmission of hospital-acquired infections via viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Antioxidants help polymers maintain constant melt stability throughout processing (extrusion, spinning, thermal bonding, etc.). The processing of these fibers becomes extremely challenging without the use of high-performing antioxidants, as impacts to fiber dimension, denier, and bonding and the effects of degradation can result in substandard medical equipment.

Antioxidants in Medical Processing of PPE

Antioxidants for Spunbond Fibers

Spunbond fibers offer unique benefits for medical products such as surgical masks, caps and gowns, and are enhanced with antioxidants to promote processing stability and fiber quality. Fibers are nonwoven in this application; rather, they are layered to create a web. The web, with small pore size, effectively filters out water vapor, virus, bacteria, fungi and other substances that can harm medical professionals or their patients. During the production of spunbond-based products through extrusion, fibers must flow easily and continuously to ensure efficient and effective production of essential PPE. 

Antioxidants for Spunbond Fibers for face masks and PPE

Solvay’s CYANOX® 1790 and  CYANOX® 2777  antioxidant for polyolefins enables the polymer to withstand multiple cycles of high heat and oxygen exposure during the production process. These antioxidants help maintain fiber dimension throughout the fiber-making process so that manufacturers can adhere to strict specifications in end-use products like masks and gowns.

Also, in addition to processing stability, unsightly yellow discoloration during shipping and storage can negatively affect the perception of a substandard product.  Both processing stability and color stability can be addressed with the CYANOX® 2777 antioxidant.  Due to CYANOX® 2777  antioxidant’s well-known and documented high gas fade resistance, the quality, non-yellowing color stability, and performance of the end-use products are maintained throughout storage and usage.  

 

Antioxidants for Polymers Used in Medical Applications Such as SBR Latex and EPDM

Latex, a primary component in medical products like gloves, is prone to cracking and breaking during processing and throughout product lifespan. For these reasons, polymer additives, especially antioxidants, are crucial. Antioxidants for latex-related applications reduce the risk of oxidation and improve durability to prevent cracks and breaks in essential safety products. Solvay’s CYANOX® 425 and CYANOX® 2246 antioxidants work exceptionally well in latex applications to improve durability and ensure the safety of medical professionals. 


For more information on Solvay’s advanced antioxidants for polyolefins used in medical applications:

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