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Finlumen and NEU collaborate on surgical catheter

By: By Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

April 4, 2013

SHANGHAI — A collaboration between Chinese-Australian joint venture extruder Finlumen and specialty compounder NEU Specialty Engineered Materials LLC has yielded a minimally invasive surgical catheter that will be exhibited at an upcoming industry trade show.

Finlumen, the tubing extrusion division of Demax Medical Technology Co., sought out NEU, a subsidiary of PolyOne Corp., to help produce catheters to the exacting specifications required for making extremely small-diameter tubing used in minimally invasive surgery.

NEU, the former New England Urethane Inc. business, specializes in compounding high-performance thermoplastics.

Finlumen's General Manager Yao Xu told Plastics News in a phone interview that manufacturing in China and working with European suppliers can be difficult because of the time difference and lack of face-to-face contact.

"It's the first time I found a company who has set up a team dedicated to medical requirement tubing, and it's more convenient because they had someone here," he said.

He added that it can be tricky to develop new products because of low production numbers and high quality demanded by clients.

Finlumen, a relatively new division at Demax, was looking for a materials supplier that could provide expertise in the extruded products trade and processing.

Bike Qiu, FinLumen's chief technology officer, said catheters used for cardiac surgery require medical-grade polymers that can meet key criteria, including radiopacity.

"It is a unique situation in medical plastic market," says Qiu in an email statement to Plastics News. "Too many requirements but small quantity relatively. A large part of applications even need customized compounds. As an extrusion supplier, there's no way to do everything from resin to tube. We need to find a partner to help us dealing with multiple requests, other than a supplier," he said.

The completed catheter will be displayed at May's Chinaplas trade show in Guangzhou. And it looks like the collaboration is not over for Finlumen and NEU. Yao hinted at future projects with NEU and Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne.