Anaheim, Calif. — Tokyo-based engineering material supplier Polyplastics Co. Ltd. has expanded its portfolio of high-performance acetal materials for drug contact and delivery applications with a high-flow grade for "more detailed parts," as it sees heightened demand for the material.
"We've been talking to the market for a few years now on our standard-flow grade," Timothy Kneale, president of Polyplastics USA, told Plastics News at MD&M West 2022 in Anaheim.
The high-flow-grade material will allow for "thinner walls and higher aspect ratios … to really fill out the lineup and enable all manner of medical parts to be made."
The materials can be used for "components with a lot of movement, like gears and moving assemblies," Kneale said, "because of its resistance to wear and low coefficient to friction."
"In medical, some of the applications include insulin pens … where there's twisting motions," he added. "There are inhaler designs with sliding friction, and POM makes a lot of sense there as well."
The company is seeing new demand from "unsolicited inquiries" from new and existing customers asking for medical product, Kneale said.
Polyplastics' new high-flow grade, Duracon PM27S01N, offers "global medical and food contact regulatory compliance," an April 12 news release said. "In a changing and growing marketplace, medical device manufacturers and end users demand high-quality materials and reliable suppliers."
The medical POM series "exhibits a minimal level of extraction with food simulant" and shows "superior heat and moisture durability" compared with other POM grades.
The product line's "slip and wear properties permit lower friction and thus greater design freedom," the release said. It is also "usable under hot steam and ethylene oxide sterilization conditions."
Polyplastics Group has four POM production bases around the world: Kuantan, Malaysia, where the medical POM is currently produced; Fuji, Japan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Nantong, China, where it is building a new facility.
Local authorities requested PTM Engineering Plastics Co. Ltd., Polyplastics' Nantong subsidiary, to suspend the operation at its existing plant in the north district of the city in March 2021 "due to the policy of China's Nantong Economic and Technological Development Zone," a Jan. 28 release said.
The company has "been rushing" to prepare its alternative plant capacity, it said.
"Local authorities had other plans for the land the existing facility is on," Kneale said. "The shutdown of the existing 90,000 tons will be at approximately the same time as the first 90,000 of the project's start."
The company expects the new plant to have a capacity of 150,000 tons in two stages, with about 90,000 tons operational in November 2024, and "will cover the impact" of the existing plant's shutdown, the release said.
The additional 60,000 tons of capacity the company expects to have at the plant reflects increased demand for POM, Kneale added. POM is often used in automotive parts, parts for home and information appliances and items like buckles for its slideability and moldability.