GLS Corp. is hoping its new thermoplastic elastomer will open the door into new medical applications.
The TPE has an oxygen barrier level equal to traditional thermoset butyl rubber.
``It is an opportunity for the company to expand its medical base,'' said Joe Kutka, technology launch manager for the McHenry, Ill., custom compounder. The firm hopes to grow into markets where companies need cleanliness and oxygen barriers.
Thermosets have been the technology of choice in medical oxygen barrier applications, but GLS said its new TPE, developed from technology originally used for food packaging, offers several advantages for companies making blood bottles, stoppers for vials, insulin containers and applications where cleanliness is an issue.
Unveiled at Medical Design & Manufacturing East, held June 12-14 in New York, the new custom TPE provides oxygen barrier performance up to 10 times better than conventional TPEs and can be either clear or colored, depending on the customer's preference, according to the company. It also provides greater design freedom, the potential for part reduction and the ability to streamline manufacturing, Kutka said.
For example, it will bond to a polypropylene substrate, which permits overmolding. That opens the opportunity for part consolidation and greater design innovation, Kutka said.
``It provides better value because it is very clean and there is less chance of contamination,'' Kutka said. Those advantages are possible because the material can be processed using high-pressure injection molding.
By contrast, after thermoset butyl rubber is compression molded, it often requires secondary processes such as trimming, washing and siliconizing, he said.
GLS also said the TPE is inert and demonstrates an extremely low level of extractables and leachables. By contrast, halogens and heavy metals are used in curing thermoset rubber, creating the risk that they could leach into the contents of medical containers or contaminate clean systems, GLS said.
Kutka said GLS is talking with several companies to use the new TPE, but there are no commercial applications yet. ``This is for companies looking at new designs for containers, vials or bottles for new types of drugs coming into the market,'' he said.