International Polymer Engineering (IPE), introduced a broad, new range of high-precision microbore tubing, monofilaments and profiles made of high-performance thermoplastics from Solvay Specialty Polymers. These innovative products offer advanced solutions for medical, aerospace, military and industrial applications.
IPE has seen growing customer demand for extrusions made of high-performance thermoplastics due to their ease of manufacturing and strong property profile. In particular, the company has seen a major shift toward replacing metals and thermoset materials with advanced thermoplastics in medical applications, according to Jonathan Jurgaitis, melt extrusion manager for IPE.
“Based on the demand from our customers, it’s clear that these high-performance materials have a strong track record, and the industry is familiar with them as a viable option for a range of applications,” Jurgaitis said. “IPE has worked closely with Solvay by tapping into their technical expertise to develop custom products that meet the stringent requirements of demanding end-use applications in the medical, aerospace, and military industries.”
IPE chose Solvay’s sulfone polymers due to their excellent clarity, stiffness and steam sterilizability. Specifically, IPE used Solvay’s Udel polysulfone (PSU) resin to fabricate 0.02-in. (0.5-mm) monofilaments and Radel polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) resin to make 0.06-in. (1.524-mm) and 0.11-in (2.794-mm) monofilaments. It also used Radel PPSU resin to make 0.50-in. (12.7 mm) microbore tubing with outer diameter (OD) of 0.012-in and inner diameter (ID) of 0.010-in. (0.3048-mm OD x 0.254-mm ID).
IPE has also increasingly put Solvay’s Spire Ultra Polymers to use due to the broad benefits of these materials, including high stiffness and hardness, and excellent resistance to chemicals and high temperatures. For example, IPE fabricates microtubes made from Solvay’s KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin that deliver greater strength and rigidity than polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) microtubes, and they are easier to work with compared to those made of stainless steel. These microtubes target a range of medical applications including catheters, endoscopic working channels, and laparoscopic instruments. KetaSpire PEEK is one of the industry’s most chemically resistant polymers that offers excellent strength, superior fatigue resistance, and a continuous-use temperature of 240°C (464°F). IPE now uses it to make a range of microfilament sizes, as well as microbore tubing with 0.012-in OD x 0.010-in ID (0.3048-mm OD x 0.254-mm ID).
IPE also used Solvay’s AvaSpire polyaryletherketone (PAEK) resin, a versatile family of polymers tailored to provide new and unique combinations of performance and value, to extrude 0.06-in (1.75-mm) monofilaments. The company further introduced 0.06-in. (1.524-mm) monofilaments made of Solvay’s Torlon polyamide-imide (PAI) resin, which offers the highest strength and stiffness of any thermoplastic up to 275°C (527°F). Additional monofilaments are fabricated with Solvay’s PrimoSpire self-reinforced polyphenylene (SRP) resin, one of the stiffest and strongest unreinforced polymers in the world. Solvay’s Halar ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE) resin, a partially fluorinated, melt-processable polymer, is also specified by IPE for 0.06-in. (1.524-mm) monofilaments due to its excellent chemical resistance and lubricity.
IPE specializes in custom extruded profiles, tube, sheet, and rod made of nylon, PTFE, polyurethane, polycarbonate, and other thermoplastics for the medical, lighting, and industrial markets. The company is able to achieve its products’ small diameter sizes by finding an optimal balance between line speed, processing temperature and appropriate tooling and drawdown ratio.