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Material enables phthalate-free product line extension

Eastman Chemical Company : 09 March, 2004  (Application Story)
In an extension of its successful SurePath medical tubing line, Tekni-Plex
In an extension of its successful SurePath medical tubing line, Tekni-Plex’s Natvar Division discovered a phthalate-free alternative that provides the same manufacturability, performance criteria and aesthetic requirements as PVC. The company's choice of Ecdel TPE 9966 from Eastman Chemical Company was the perfect replacement for PVC. Natvar was able to create its new phthalate-free alternative with very little modifications to machinery or processes.

Manufactured using a unique tri-layer co-extrusion process, the tubing consists of a polyethylene inner layer to prevent absorption, a proprietary middle layer for adhesion, and an outer layer for bonding. Ecdel TPE 9966, selected for the outermost layer, was instrumental in making Natvar’s phthalate-free product line feasible.

The compatibility of Ecdel with the proprietary middle layer plus its ability to withstand solvent or adhesive bonding made it an effective PVC replacement, conducive for downstream assembly processes. Manufacturers typically use solvents to bond polycarbonate luer connectors and other couplings to the tube. Ecdel is similar to PVC, and its ability to consistently hold outside diameter dimensions allows assemblers to use the same equipment and processes, but with even better results. Ecdel maintained crystal clarity while forming a strong, rapid bond.

As an added advantage, Ecdel withstands ETO and gamma sterilization techniques without the yellowing associated with PVC. Since it’s an elastomer, free from migratory plasticizers, it can be readily disposed of in landfills or through incineration with no hazardous by-products. When burned, Ecdel releases carbon dioxide and water.

Natvar’s phthalate-free product line extension was heavily influenced by continued debate on the safety of phthalates (plasticizers) and petitions to add them to Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. Natvar’s decision was to lead instead of follow.

“We want to be at the forefront of technology and stay ahead of the game,” notes Bob Donohue, Natvar engineering manager. He adds that Natvar has been working with Eastman for several years to develop the tri-layer application, so creating a PVC alternative was a natural progression.

Developing innovative polymers for varied needs of the medical market has been part of an ongoing Eastman initiative. “Ecdel is an example of a product that meets today’s needs while anticipating tomorrow’s requirements. Regardless of whether phthalates are added to the Proposition 65 list, Natvar’s customers now have an environmentally-friendly choice that doesn’t compromise quality,” remarks Kathy Dohrer, Eastman field market development manager.

Designed to administer unstable solutions such as insulin and other drugs, Natvar’s new SurePath 252 tubing line is suitable for anesthesia monitoring lines. A patent is pending on the new product.
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