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Hospitals are ‘coming to grips’ with lightweight medical instruments

Hospitals are ‘coming to grips’ with lightweight medical instruments


Radel®, on the forefront of metal replacement for decades
Medical devices and accessories are lighter and easier to design, clean and customize when they’re made of plastic instead of metal – provided you use the right plastic. Solvay’s Radel® PPSU is the indisputable go-to material here.


The medical world is filled with instruments of all types we’re used to seeing in the hands of nurses, doctors and dentists: surgical accessories, endoscopic devices, anesthesiology equipment, cases, trays, etc. We tend to keep a traditional mental image of these instruments and imagine them made of stainless steel and aluminum, but it’s time to update that image.

For the past 30 years, plastics have found more and more uses in the medical world – particularly one specific plastic: Radel® polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), a sulfone polymer produced by Solvay. “We’re a leader in this field, and Radel® is an extremely strong brand in medical circles, and has been for decades,” says Jeff Hrivnak, Business Development Manager at Solvay’s Healthcare Specialty Polymers. So much so that it could be compared to a household name such as Kleenex®, making it a particularly strong item in Solvay’s portfolio of solutions for healthcare applications.


When patients can leave the hospital the same day, everyone is happier, and plastics enable some of these medical innovations thanks to the design flexibility they provide.



Jeff Hrivnak, Business Development Manager at Solvay’s Healthcare Specialty Polymers




Advanced healthcare materials to make everyone happier
The arguments for switching to plastic are well established and similar to the ones that have been leading other categories of medical devices to turn to polymers as well, such as long-term implants. These arguments are chiefly lightweighting and design flexibility, but one additional aspect is crucial when it comes to reusable medical instruments: resistance to sterilization. Radel® PPSU being a remarkably strong polymer. Objects made with it can be steam-sterilized over 1,000 times without losing their properties.


Polymers bring color to medical devices
What’s more, Radel® PPSU enables pigmentation possibilities that metal just can’t offer. Coloring devices such as joint replacement trials or different parts of an instrument can make all the difference. For example, when conducting trials for a knee replacement, having different colors enables the surgeon to easily distinguish different sizes, thus saving time when selecting the right one for the patient. “Pigments and coloring are an important aspect for our customers,” confirms Jeff. “For example, we had one customer who wanted to develop a new medical instrument with seven different touchpoints that all needed to be colored differently. The only way you can do that is to make your instrument from plastic.”

Here as in many other medical fields – from medical grade sodium bicarbonate and polymer membranes for more efficient hemodialysis to protective coatings to guarantee the efficacy of medicines – Solvay is proud to provide a wide range of solutions for the medical world to help millions of people live a better, healthier life.

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