LSR giving injection molded plastics competition in medical industry

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 7, 2014 4:28 pm ET
Updated: May 7, 2014 5:16 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Medical, Plastics in Medical Devices

CLEVELAND — Standard plastics are seeing competition from liquid silicone rubber in medical parts and other injection molding applications.

LSR has been able to make inroads in these areas because of its good physical properties and great chemical and heat resistance, Qure Medical general manager Jim Miller said May 7 at Plastics in Medical Devices, a conference hosted by Plastics News in Cleveland.

Qure was formed from the merger of three manufacturing companies in 2012. The Twinsburg, Ohio-based firm operates several plants in the U.S. and recently opened a plant in Dongguan, China. Qure employs almost 1,000 worldwide and has annual sales of about $150 million.

In the medical field, Qure has used LSR in a wide range of applications, including 0-ring seals, duckbill valves and internal wound drains.

In O-ring seals, Miller said that LSR offers good compression set performance and competitive pricing because of good cycle times. For duckbill valves, the material can provide excellent bounce-back properties and is biocompatible for intravenous fluids.

Internal wound drains made from LSR can be overmolded onto silicone tubing, Miller said. Holes also can be punched into the tubing to increase flow from the wound.

LSR feeding tubes also have proven to be resistant to stomach acids and feeding solutions. Other fluid management applications for LSR include plunger tips and other applications that deliver or remove fluids from the body.

Miller added that the use of heat with LSR injection molding is the opposite of what it is with plastics. "We're heating molds and chilling barrels," he explained.

Although LSR molds can be more difficult to clean and maintain than plastic molds, Miller said the material offers other advantages such as transparency, easy sterilization and biocompatibility. LSR also has proven popular, Miller said, because its soft feel is similar to that of skin, allowing it to be used in devices that contact the body.

Longtime plastics injection molder GW Plastics opened its GW Silicones unit in Royalton, Vt., in 2008.  At PMD, unit general manager Mark Hammond said that silicones continue to challenge PVC and traditional rubber materials in medical and other markets. LSR also can compete with thermoplastic elastomers in those applications, he said.

LSR can offer more consistent pricing than TPEs, added Hammond, whose firm operates four plants in the U.S., as well as single plants in Mexico and China. The materials also are easily colored and are approaching the same cycle times as plastics in the molding process, he said.

Hammond cited a Freedonia Group study showing that by percentage, medical was the fastest-growing end market for silicones in the 2001-11 time period. But a possible downside of LSR use, according to Hammond, is the material's high air permeation and need for specialized equipment and expertise.

LSR also has been used in two-shot silicone molding, which Hammond said can produce complex parts with fine detail and tight tolerances.


Comments

LSR giving injection molded plastics competition in medical industry

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: May 7, 2014 4:28 pm ET
Updated: May 7, 2014 5:16 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

New medical firm buys Clairson Plastics

September 19, 2014 4:33 pm ET

Custom injection molder Clairson Plastics is being sold to a new start-up that plans to dive into the medical market with a new dialyzer, a key...    More

Image

Foster building medical polymers plant

September 19, 2014 1:39 pm ET

Foster Delivery Science is investing $8 million in a new plant in Putnam, Conn., for production of medical polymer blends, as well as rods, film or...    More

Image

Nolato Contour beefs up white room molding capabilities

September 18, 2014 11:56 am ET

Nolato Medical has extended its controlled environment options to include a white room at its Baldwin, Wis., Nolato Contour plant.    More

Market Reports

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

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events