Growth prospects for the medical market have caught the eyes of executives at top compounder PolyOne Corp.
The reason for our emphasis on medical is that it's a growing market with less hills and valleys, health-care marketing director Larry Johnson said at Plastics in Medical Devices, held April 12-14 in Westlake.
We have a large group of application areas in a number of products, like TPEs and vinyl, Johnson added. We can pretty much supply any need.
We're not tied into one specific chemistry, added GLS TPE technology director Joe Kutka. We're not one size fits all.
Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne has backed up its words with action. Late last year, the firm bought medical compounder New England Urethane Inc. for $12 million. This year it has introduced several new medical grades of its products, including non-phthalate grades of Versaflex-brand TPEs for medical tubing.
The purchase of NEU shows our commitment to the market, Johnson said. NEU is a good platform for catheters and minimally invasive instruments.
Succeeding in the field also requires a commitment to customers because of the one to two years it can take to get a material approved for an application.
Medical customers are more value-oriented, said global GLS marketing director Rick Noller. They really need to be, because it can cost $500,000 to requalify a material.
Switching materials in a medical application isn't easy, and it's going to get harder with new regulations, Johnson said.
PolyOne's distribution unit recently added high-temperature grades of BASF Corp.'s Ultrason materials for health-care uses. Ultrason can be based on polysulfone, polyethersulfone or polyphenylsulfone. The business also picked up a good amount of health-care business when it inked a distribution deal with specialty plastics leader DuPont Co.
Health-care-related sales made up 20 percent of the distribution unit's total last year.
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