How to get the best out of MD&M West

To many, it’s famous for two things: theme parks and a legendary ice hockey team. But to those in the know, Anaheim is also the first stop in the calendar year for the latest developments in medical device innovation. Dave Gray examines what’s on show at MD&M West 2019.

For the plastics community, MD&M West has plenty to offer. In fact, the majority of the exhibitors there intersect with the market for plastic medical innovation, either directly or indirectly. Ineos Styrolution, for example, one of the key players in the materials market, will be at this year’s show, and while the firm says it will be focussing on digital health (it’d be mad not to) it will also be launching new grades for older applications. One of the new grades on offer is targeted at medical tubing, including multi-layer tubes, and will be available with Ineos Styrolution’s Essential HD Package (risk class 1 & 2) with 12 months notification of change (NOC) with a signed long-term supply contract. Food contact statements, USP Class VI, ISO 10993 and drug master file (DMF) are also part of the package.

Teleflex Medical OEM will also be returning to Anaheim this year, with a host of new products on offer. First up is its new hydrophilic surface coating for polymer-based devices that are to be navigated through the vascular system. The coating performs favourably in terms of lubricity and extended durability when compared to other coatings on the market, the group claims. It reportedly also demonstrates biocompatibility and shelf-life stability, exhibits low particulate count in testing, and boasts good adhesion to the substrate material. The coating can be customised to optimise certain performance characteristics based on specific user needs, says the firm.

In terms of benefits for the end-user, the coating may reduce the required insertion force which may result in improved control, placement, and tracking of a device, says Teleflex Medical OEM. Applications for this surface technology include introducers, diagnostic catheters, balloon catheters, and components.

The coating is applied through a fully-automated process in a temperature and humidity-controlled cleanroom.

The coating is just one recent development from the group, which will also bring its new braiding technology which can divide a suture into multiple end branches or integrate several “loops” within the strand. This continuous braiding process can produce variations of complex, divided segments at the end of a suture, or between singular round or flat tape segments, says the group. This, it says, means that the need for expensive and time-intensive manual sewing is eliminated.

The braiding technology allows for a broad range of configurations that are expected to be used in orthopaedic applications where two sutures are presently used for fixation.

The show floor will also play host to plenty of contract moulders jostling for position. One group with something to shout about is MTD Micro Molding, which recently announced new investments that expand on its capabilities.

The firm’s new gas chromatography system for example is a piece of analytical equipment that can measure residual monomer and assist with material characterization, which further supports R&D projects by looking at materials on a molecular level. When used in conjunction with DCS equipment for material characterization, MTD can build robust profiles for materials to analyse behaviour–crucial for manufacturing intricate components with critical medical functionality. This provides an in-house suite of equipment for material characterization/science: molecular makeup (GC testing), thermal behaviour (DSC testing), and viscosity and rheology behavior (IV testing).

MTD claims it is also the first company in North America to own a Mitsubishi MX600 oil wire EDM machine, which lets machining operators use ultra-small wire in the range of .0008″–.001″.

“The machine has doubled our wire EDM capacity and has made getting down to the smallest wire diameters much easier,” said operations manager, John Clark. “Although our lead time to build new tools is driven by the complexity of it and its components, on average, we were anywhere from six to eight weeks in production. Now, we can get components out to our customers in two to three weeks.”

MTD has also acquired a Mitsubishi 6-axis robot, which adds greater functionality for sophisticated in-line inspection and complex packaging schemes in a small footprint. Two new Sodick moulding machines increases production volume and speed.

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