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New medical plastic additive improves device lubricity

Raumedic (Helmbrechts, Germany) has announced the development of a biocompatible additive that the company said will enhance the lubricity of medical devices and has the potential to serve as a lower-cost alternative to PTFE. The material can be added to thermoplastic elastomers, polyamides, polystyrenes and polyolefins.

Raumedic's Dr. Katharina Neumann
The biocompatible additive has the potential to improve catheter products, said Dr. Katharina Neumann, "because they are easier to introduce into the body thanks to their reduced gliding force."

The contract manufacturer for medical device and pharmaceutical OEMs said that the additive will enhance the sliding properties of medical plastic components without affecting the mechanical and chemical characteristics of the base material. The new material was tested in combination with various polymers over a six-month period. In comparison studies of extrudates with and without the additive, the company reportedly found that the additive had no significant effect on dimension stability, flow rate and tensile strength. It did not disclose any information about the composition of the additive.

Radiopaque settings and customized color finishes should also be possible with the material, according to Raumedic. “We see tremendous improvement potential for our catheter products because they are easier to introduce into the body thanks to their reduced gliding force,” said Dr. Katharina Neumann, Head of Materials Chemistry at Raumedic. It can improve the properties of existing guidewires and optimize syringe systems, she added.

“The additive can be used for all applications in which plastic has to glide well on plastic,” said Neumann. Potential application areas include regional anesthesia, drug delivery and minimally invasive surgery.

The new material combination also has the potential to significantly lower costs, Neumann said. “Thermoplastic PTFE is relatively expensive,” she said. “Our new compound could be a lower-cost alternative.” She advises companies to consider the material before they begin product development work on relevant applications.

Raumedic provides extrusion, injection molding and assembly services at its facilities in Germany and Mills River, NC.

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