Fairlawn, Ohio — Silicone remains one of the most sought-after materials in the medical market, and its availability is rebounding following the supply chain headaches of recent memory.
In many cases, silicone is the only elastomer that can be used for a given medical application.
But in many other cases, according to Hilarie Rubin, senior market manager for the custom compounder Teknor Apex Co., a tried-and-true silicone component can be replaced with a thermoplastic elastomer product without any drop in performance.
And it behooves those in the medical space to consider a TPE alternative, should supply chain challenges arise once again, Rubin said.
"A lot of worry was created by silicone shortages," Rubin said May 8 during a presentation at the Healthcare Elastomers Conference, organized by Rubber News, a sister paper of Plastics News.
"The Cadillac of elastomeric resins for the past 60 years was in short supply," Rubin said. "And customers were asking, 'Is there an alternative material I could use?' "
As it turns out, there is.
And TPEs are gaining in popularity with their lower cost, lower specific gravity, ease of tooling and simplicity in processing.