Putnam Plastics Corp. has extended the use of plastics in medical technology with its development of high-strength monofila- ment fibers.
The Dayville, Conn., company said it has a proprietary process to make custom monofilament up to 0.1 inch in diameter from high-performance materials like nylon and polypropylene.
“They can replace metal wires in medical applications,” said Dan Lazas, Putnam's director of marketing, in a telephone interview.
Some medical devices and procedures such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging need transparent or non-magnetic wire components. Instrumentation and orthopedics are two health-care markets Putnam believes can gain from its new, custom monofilaments.
Unlike conventional monofilaments, the high-strength products are made by custom extruding rods and drawing them down markedly, in a controlled fashion, to orient the polymer chains parallel to the draw-down force. A trick is to control diameters while maintaining strength and managing setup time and costs.
Most fiber extruders wouldn't want to set up for the low-volume, custom runs planned by Putnam, according to Lazas. Filament runs can be as small as 328,000 feet. Putman makes its own dies.
Putnam began developing the new fibers last year, and early this year the company has made them commercially available.
Other materials used for the fibers are polyester, polyurethane and thermoplastic elastomers. Lazas cited as a strength example a 0.05-inch nylon fiber with tensile strength of 200 pounds.
“The convergence of minimally invasive devices and medical imaging technologies are increasing demand for non-metallic components made from high-performance materials,” General Manager Ray Rilling said in a news release. “These emerging device solutions are custom by definition.”
Lazas said Putnam has more than 30 years of experience in catheter extrusion. The firm recently opened a new climate-controlled printing center with dedicated pad printers in Dayville to broaden its services to medical customers.
Putnam is part of PolyMedex Discovery Group, based in Putnam, Conn.