Antimicrobial plastics play role in disease prevention

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: September 13, 2013 4:45 pm ET
Updated: September 13, 2013 6:24 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Medical Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations

GURNEE, ILL. — As the health-care industry grapples with the best ways to stop the spread of infectious diseases within hospitals, the plastics industry may be an important ally in the fight.

One potential weapon: antimicrobial plastics.

Plastic surfaces, those touched by patients and doctors regularly, could have built in resistance to bacteria and other disease.

"Not a whole lot of inherently antimicrobial plastics have been adopted so far [for touch surfaces]," said Manish Nandi, senior product developer for Sabic Innovative Plastics.

Nandi spoke about hospital acquired infectious diseases, and how plastics can play in a role in the prevention and spread of diseases at the Society of Plastic Engineers Medical Plastics MiniTec, held Sept. 9 in Gurnee.

The antimicrobial plastics won't be the cure-all, he said.

"The primary control is still going to be cleaning," Nandi said. "What the inherently antimicrobial plastics are going to give you is some sort of insurance policy. If you miss a spot, then you have a material that is self, sort of, killing the bacteria."

While each hospital has a cleaning protocol, the system is a human effort and not uniform.

"It's not the same from hospital to hospital," he said. "So there is something that may be missing from a cleaning protocol."

Those potential missed spots are where the antimicrobial plastics could play a part. It could also play a part while the patient is still in the room.

"The room only gets cleaned when the patient leaves, they don't spray down the room on top of a patient," Nandi said. "So having an insurance policy in place while the patient is there won't be bad."

There are different types of inherently antimicrobial plastics including those that would repeal the bacteria or those that would kill the bacteria, he said.

In addition to inherently antimicrobial plastics, Nandi said developing plastics that hold up color and structure to chemical cleaners also is a difficult task.

"The cleaners, they are good inventors," he said. "And so to kill these really resistant bugs, they are coming up with harsher and harsher chemicals. And that is putting pressure on folks like us who are making the materials and surfaces because these materials are not friendly to the harsher chemicals."

So Sabic has started a study to look at different polymers with different cleaners to see how they react. And what might be the best solution for surfaces that come into constant contact with patients.

"It's an ongoing study, so we don't have any results right now, but we hope to have something by the end of the year," he said.

Other items can be sterilized in a number of ways: gamma rays; ethylene oxide; autoclaving; or low-temperature hydrogen peroxide gas. All have advantages and disadvantages, and various plastics hold up in different ways to each — polycarbonates will discolor with gamma rays, for instance — he said.

Nandi said a polyetherimide resin has proven to hold up to all different types of sterilization.

"The claim to fame for this material is it is resistant to all four sterilization types, which is a very big advantage for the device designer," he said. "You have a universal choice."


Comments

Antimicrobial plastics play role in disease prevention

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: September 13, 2013 4:45 pm ET
Updated: September 13, 2013 6:24 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

TE buys catheter maker AdvancedCath

April 10, 2015 2:45 pm ET

Catheter system design and manufacturing firm AdvancedCath Technologies Inc. has been acquired by TE Connectivity's medical division in a $190...    More

Image

Rubber molder digging up more business with addition of injection molding

April 10, 2015 9:20 am ET

Jefferson Rubber Works Inc. got a taste of the plastics industry in 2014 and sees bigger things on the horizon.    More

Image

From yo-yos to DNA, Canon shows range

April 6, 2015 11:16 am ET

You might wonder what Canon, known primarily for its consumer cameras and copier products, was doing molding red yo-yos at NPE 2015.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events