The Polymer Service Package: Evaluating Your Medical Plastics Supplier
Polymers for medical equipment and devices must fulfill more demanding performance requirements than most other applications. Biocompatibility, heat and chemical resistance, sterilization compatibility, and impact strength are all crucial considerations in healthcare settings, especially as the battle against healthcare-acquired infections (HAI) exposes medical polymers to stronger disinfectants on a regular basis.
Generally, OEMs determine which of these product and performance characteristics matter most to a particular application — but when selecting a material supplier for medical plastics, there is much more to consider beyond product performance. Assistance with material selection, part design, manufacturing, product testing, and performance analysis all impact what OEMs should look for when selecting a material supplier.
Can a medical polymer supplier deliver more than high-quality products? If so, what should OEMs look for in prospective material supply partners beyond their product portfolio? Before selecting a medical polymer supplier for your next project, consider how they will provide support throughout your project’s life cycle in these four key ways.
Selecting the right high-performance polymers for your medical device or equipment isn’t always a straightforward process. While most OEMs will have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish with a project, they don’t always know how proper material selection will help them achieve that vision.
This is why material education plays a crucial role in how medical plastics suppliers can influence customer success. By understanding how performance features align with business goals — and how those performance features solve for bigger industry challenges — OEMs can make more informed decisions about their project.
At Solvay, we are committed to helping OEMs solve problems facing the healthcare industry with top-notch chemistry. We demonstrate this commitment to customer success through regular customer education both online and in-person. This includes:
OEMs and industry leaders are busy — they need quick and easy access to helpful resources designed to help them do their jobs better. This is the concept behind our digital resource center, which houses technical bulletins, helpful articles, webinars and other digital materials designed to help our customers innovate and grow.
Press Releases: Solvay is invested in solving issues facing medical professionals and patients alike. Regular press releases keep the industry up-to-date about new products and innovative applications that demonstrate the efficacy of our high-performance polymers in healthcare settings.
Webinars: Webinars allow OEMs to learn about how our products can help them solve some of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry. This format gives attendees the chance to get a deep understanding of a topic that’s relevant to a particular project.
On-site Educational Seminars
Our educational seminars and on-site materials training give customers a unique opportunity to better understand how specialty polymers help solve crucial design and manufacturing challenges. The interactive format also allows materials engineers and designers to ask questions about polymer performance characteristics.
Application Review and Consultation
Beyond meeting application requirements, material selection must consider compatibility with specific molding, machining and assembly methods. Our Solvay team works hand-in-hand with clients to help them select not just the right polymer solution for an application, but the manufacturing process that’s best suited for the material and project. We provide technical support throughout the design and manufacturing process , including:
|Material recommendations||Designing with plastics||Moldflow® process modeling|
|Finite element analysis||Fabrication and assembly techniques||Product testing and failure analysis|
|Global regulatory submission assistance||On-site materials training||On-site processing support|
Material Selection Support
Selecting polymers for medical products requires careful consideration of how the environment, conditions of use, and performance demands of an application align with the material’s performance capabilities . Medical devices and equipment are often exposed to harsh chemicals, high heat, and improper handling that can result in cracking, crazing and fading when a lower-performing polymer is used.
Solvay’s industry-leading offering of polymer solutions are uniquely formulated for higher performance in these critical areas. As part of the application review process, we work closely with our clients to select polymers with the performance characteristics they need, including:
Compatibility with Disinfectants: For applications that include frequent disinfection, we help our customers identify which polymers will withstand commonly used disinfectants like Cidex®, Virex® TB and Vesphene® IISE while retaining mechanical properties and surface aesthetics.
Compatibility with Sterilization Methods: Our medical-grade polymers are compatible with a variety of sterilization methods, including steam, ethylene oxide gas, vaporized hydrogen peroxide, and high-energy gamma radiation. Our team can help you select the right polymer solution for the sterilization technology specific to your application.
Strength and Stiffness: We assist our clients in selecting polymers with the high strength and stiffness needed to convert their application from metal to plastic — in turn supporting our customers’ goals for cost-savings, lightweighting and design freedom.
Impact Strength: Products that are handled regularly, like barcode readers or handheld medical devices, must be able to withstand frequent dropping during normal use. We assist our clients in choosing materials that retain their mechanical properties after repeated exposure to sterilization or chemical disinfectants to deliver long-lasting performance.
Heat Resistance: For medical equipment and devices exposed to high heat, we can assist OEMs in selecting a polymer that’s best suited for your application’s range of operating temperatures.
Flame Resistance: Some of our products — including Radel® PPSU, Veradel® PESU, and Ketaspire® PEEK, — inherently meetUL94 V0 flammability standards, while others can be formulated to meet this requirement. Our team is skilled in helping our customers select polymers that are best suited for applications that require this standard.
Your project’s life cycle doesn’t end when a medical device or piece of equipment is commercialized. An unexpected performance issue or part failure can arise once your product is in the field. In some cases, this can be traced back to improper material selection, poor processing or misuse.
At Solvay, our customer partnerships continue well beyond assistance with material selection and part design review — they extend into healthcare settings where our plastics are being used to help improve patient outcomes.
Our technical support team can help clients troubleshoot performance issues by conducting a review of failed parts, including environmental stress crack analysis and supporting customer root cause analysis with material testing and processing review.
The Value of the Medical Plastics Service Package
At Solvay, we recognize the value we offer beyond our portfolio of next-generation polymers for healthcare. Our 30+ years of experience within the healthcare industry allows us to operate not just as suppliers to medical device and equipment OEMs, but as trusted partners. Our commitment to customer service and technical support is what sets us apart in the industry.
To learn more about Solvay’s polymer solutions, or to discuss an upcoming project, contact our team of experts.