A leading North American manufacturer of polypropylene (PP) hose for medical applications, including laser surgery, respiratory care and sleep apnea equipment, faced a challenge with its existing thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV). The elastomeric material, used to overmold a cuff on the end of the hose, demonstrated inconsistent quality and subpar flow properties. In addition, the TPV supplier was not providing sufficient quantities of the material consistently, threatening the manufacturer’s ability to meet its own customer’s needs on time.
The hose manufacturer decided to explore other material options that would meet requirements such as excellent colorability, good surface appearance, high flow for optimal productivity, and of course, compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The company also sought a vendor who could provide rapid delivery and reliable material supply to avoid production delays.
In the course of their research into material options, the manufacturer’s team invited PolyOne to suggest options for an alternative TPV based on its global reputation for superior products and service. The PolyOne team assessed the application’s technical and operational requirements, and recommended a GLS™ Versalloy™ alloy in 45 Shore A durometer, an FDA-compliant medical TPV grade designed for overmolding onto PP.
In addition to its excellent colorability and high flow, the Versalloy solution possessed a lower specific gravity and resulted in lower scrap rates compared to the competitive TPV, providing the opportunity to reduce system costs.
As a result of the system-based cost savings and improved supply reliability, the manufacturer made the decision to proceed with the Versalloy TPV, which is now used in the production of end cuffs for a variety of repeated-use surgical and respiratory hoses.
Ultimately, the transition to the GLS TPV proved to be a smooth one for the manufacturer. With PolyOne’s assistance and experience in medical device applications, the manufacturer immediately realized the following lifts:
Cost savings: The hose manufacturer saves $33,000 per year by using Versalloy TPV instead of its previous material. These savings resulted from Versalloy’s lower specific gravity (0.88 compared to 0.95) and a 50% reduction in scrap rate.
Higher productivity: The improved flow properties of the Versalloy solution enabled the hose manufacturer to increase throughput by two seconds, which in turn reduced total system costs.
Reliable JIT supply chain: The Versalloy material needed by the customer was reliably supplied by PolyOne in just three weeks instead of the typical six week lead time.