Manufacturer reports surge in TPE use during COVID-19 pandemic
United Soft Plastics, a manufacturer and compounder of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), has reported a surge of interest in the use of thermoplastic elastomers for the production of many COVID-19 related medical applications.
The company says several companies, both domestic and international, have approached the company requesting materials to convert their non-medical manufacturing facilities to produce items to meet the healthcare demand from the global pandemic.
TPEs have been adopted in a range of COVID-19 related applications including personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks and face shields, and also ventilator parts, according to Benedict Herbst, executive vice president and CFO of United Soft Plastics (USP).
Herbst said: “We are pleased to be an important contributor in the development of medical products that will help our fellow citizens combat this awful virus.”
USP expects this demand to drop gradually towards the middle or end of 2021, but there will still be more long-term support for these medical products than existed before the pandemic, particularly due to the growing use of antimicrobial, antivirus, and antibiotic compounds.
Due to COVID-19, USP reports a spike in interest both in replacing current materials (i.e. silicone or standard rubber) with softer plastic in current applications and in scaling those applications for the future.
Herbst added: “We see a larger fraction of consumers become more conscious of infectious disease and the ability that we have, both as manufacturers and consumers, to prevent the spread of disease through the choice of proper materials.”
The result is that many applications which previously were not considered “medical” (i.e., a pen cup in a public waiting room) will in the future need to hold up to different sterilisation methods such as autoclaving, according to Herbst.