This approach avoids the considerable time and expense of producing soft tooling. Once the part design is finalised, device manufacturers can fully leverage the performance properties of Solvay’s Ixef PARA resin using injection moulding.
Drake Medical Plastics, which serves the medical component and life sciences industries, is currently the only supplier of Solvay Ixef PARA extruded rod stock. The company offers the rods in three diameters: 19 mm (0.75 in), 30 mm (1.0 in), and 77 mm (3.0 in) in a neutral grey colour (Ixef GS-1022/GY02). Injection moulding grades of Ixef PARA healthcare resins are also available from Drake Medical Plastics in seven additional gamma-stabilised colours. These materials have been evaluated for ISO 10993 limited-duration biocompatibility and are supported by a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Master Access File (MAF). Ixef PARA is optimised for sterilisation using high-energy gamma radiation without causing a significant change in appearance or performance.
“We’re pleased to add rod stock extruded from Solvay’s high-performance Ixef PARA to our portfolio,” said Steven Quance, Drake Medical’s President. “Ixef PARA shapes address the need for more-efficient prototyping that can help OEMs control development costs and accelerate time to market for new single-use surgical instruments and other devices. Designers can quickly and easily create visual prototypes that give an accurate representation of their final product. We have found that immediate access to high-quality stock shapes in leading-edge materials like Ixef PARA helps customers meet new project objectives of speed, cost and design.”
For single-use orthopaedic surgical instruments, injection moulded Ixef PARA now delivers performance comparable to that of traditional stainless steel, but without the drawbacks. The 50 percent glass fibre-reinforced resins feature excellent rigidity, creep resistance, and strength required to withstand mechanical strain and stress. However, they are up to 450 percent lighter than metal, enabling OEMs to increase the number of tools in a surgical instrument kit. Another advantage is their smooth, resin-rich surface, which helps avoid the risk of glove tears from the glass fibre and minimises moisture absorption. From a design standpoint, Ixef PARA enables the incorporation of ergonomic elements, such as textures for improved grip, without the need for secondary operations.
“Solvay and Drake Medical Plastics have teamed up to tackle the high cost of prototype tooling for single-use medical devices and this is our solution,” said Debbie Prenatt, Sales Development Manager for Healthcare at Solvay’s Specialty Polymers global business unit. “By producing machinable rod stock from Ixef PARA healthcare resin, Drake Medical is now offering device designers an innovative alternative to traditional, more expensive prototyping. Adding to this value proposition is the ability to transition seamlessly to high-speed, high-volume injection moulding using the same resin. This collaboration is just the latest in a longstanding partnership focused on the needs of the medical device sector.”