Hoping to capitalize on health concerns involving plasticizers, GLS Corp. introduced a phthalate-free thermoplastic elastomer for medical applications, bags, containers, infant-care items, tubing and films.
``We see a lot of people looking for materials with exceptional clarity where there are concerns with the use of PVC,'' said Joe Kutka, technology launch manager for custom compounder GLS Corp. of McHenry, Ill.
``We plan to develop a plasticizer-free line from this,'' he said at Medical Design & Manufacturing West, held Jan. 29-31 in Anaheim.
Phthalates are plasticizers used to soften PVC. Last year, California became the first state to pass a ban on the use of certain phthalates in toys and child-care products for children under 3, effective Jan. 1, 2009. Similar bans have been proposed in Washington, Oregon and Connecticut. The European Union has banned phthalates in mouthing toys of less than 2 inches on each side.
According to Kutka, the firm's new TPE, Versaflex CL E95, offers exceptional clarity and less yellowing when subjected to sterilization. The material can be extruded and injection molded with good processing flexibility at low temperatures.
Unlike PVC, it is not a low-cost material. It is not a printable substrate and cannot be welded using radio frequency, he said.
Kutka said GLS is working with Kocher Plastik Maschinenbau GmbH in Sulzbach-Laufen, Germany, on a medical application for saline solution bags that will be on display at Interpack 2008, slated for April 24-30 in Dsseldorf, Germany.
``They will blow the bag, seal it and fill it. We intend to use it as a platform for phthalate-free products,'' he said.
GLS is looking at more medical applications, Kutka said.
In June, GLS introduced TPEs with an oxygen barrier Kutka said equals traditional thermoset butyl rubber. The company hopes to grow in markets where companies need cleanliness and oxygen barriers.
Thermosets including rubber have been the technology of choice in medical oxygen-barrier applications. But Kutka said GLS' TPE material, developed from technology originally used for food packaging, offers companies greater design freedom, the potential to reduce components and the ability to streamline manufacturing.
PolyOne Corp. of Avon Lake, Ohio, acquired GLS in November.