Heather Thompson, Senior Editor
Dow Chemical as of mid-2016 became 100% owner of Dow Corning’s silicones business.
The move created both an opportunity and challenge because it represents a marriage of organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry. How can the two complement each other and drive innovation? And how will the deal affect the medical device industry?
MDO caught up with Dow Corning officials this week at the annual MD&M West conference and expo in Anaheim, California, where they’re exhibiting at Booth #1921. Here’s what Gary Lord, global strategic marketing manager for Dow Corning Silicone, and Roger Hendrick, technical service and development for medical markets at Dow Corning, had to say:
MDO: How do you see that playing out in the medical device space?
Lord: From a market and sort of an industry perspective, I think what we’re looking at here is an industry that is looking for maximizing the solutions that they can gain from suppliers to look at innovation with materials that have a good proven performance and a long history in terms of their usage, but be able to put them together in new and innovative ways. That’s what for me is the exciting opportunity to be out here with bringing the silicone chemistry of Dow Corning truly into Dow Chemical and blending that with the organic chemistry that they have.
In their style looking out—plastics, silicones—we can start looking at different types of adhesives because [Dow Chemical] has expertise in carbon base adhesives like acrylics and we have the silicone-base adhesives. They have the plastics that we never have. They have the rigid forms that we struggled to come up with because we’re a flexible. … I think the opportunities and the ability, if you will, bring lots of different technologies, processing technologies as well as chemistries, together to innovate with our customers is actually exploding. For me it’s a really exciting time.
MDO: That’s great. Roger?
Hendrick: To build on Gary’s comments, what’s exciting for me, I work in [the] application space. I directly work with customers to help them use our materials: science and understanding of chemical makeup and converting that into something that’s meaningful to people who are in the process of conversion. There are people like me on [the] organic side of Dow Chemical who do the same thing. …. Capital investment recently on the silicones portion of medical markets to again deliver on those commitments to provide value to our customers. One of the things we’re here promoting this year is the application center. … We have numerous application centers around the world. Our key message this year is we’re continuing to make investment there and that’s [a] very important market space and a very important function within Dow Corning. … It’s very exciting.
MDO: What kind of feedback are you getting from your customers for the medical device OEMs.
Hendrick: They’re excited. They want to know what’s coming in the future, how we build on the collaboration between silicone and carbon base, and I think everybody’s waiting to see what comes from that and what we’ll put together next.
MDO: Are there any materials challenges that you expect to be coming up in the next couple of years? Sourcing or just raw material issues?
Hendrick: I don’t envision that. Dow Chemical and Dow Corning opening have been in the business of making products and making chemicals for a very long time. We have very efficient ERV systems … pumping up materials. That is not something I have to worry about. Gary, you want to touch on that?
Lord: … For me, I see no major issues actually creating this synergy between the two companies so they’re one going forward for the benefit of our customers.
I do see enormous potential in the medium-term in looking at how we can take those two chemistries and actually bring them together in ways that have never been done before because there are things that Dow Chemical has that Dow Corning never had . … There are abilities that they have that are actually going to have us do things different than what we used to do before, and those differences, I think will be positive for our customers.
MDO: Have you had a chance to explore? Have you come with an example that you can share?
Lord: I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately it is too early. What we have is a group of people who are already exchanging ideas, already looking at what it is we could be doing in terms of bringing together that organic chemistry base and the silicone chemistry base and bringing those together in [a] way where we can explain especially to regulatory authorities that we may be coming up with a new innovative-type product. …
That’s one of the biggest challenges in the medical industry as well as any healthcare part of the business. … Customers love to see innovation. Unfortunately, the regulatory bodies want a lot of data and a lot of testing, which goes along with that innovation, which cost time and money. If it can actually shorten some of that for the benefit of the customers and the patients around the world by coming up with … chemistries, proven chemistries, but bringing them together in different ways, that’s what we’d love to do.
Lord: … Roger talked about the investments that we’re making in continuously improving our capabilities to process and develop application technology with our products, with the expansion that we have in Midland [Michigan]. Here at the show we’re actually launching a new product which is an intermediate soft skin adhesive between the product line which we have that has been very, very successful in advance management and other types of wound applications and the silicone PSAs … Extremely good and extremely effective at adhering strongly to the body., things like prosthesis, when you lose a bit of your ear and you have a piece made and you have to stick it on everyday so it doesn’t fall off.
Managing editor Chris Newmarker contributed to this report.
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