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Breakthroughs in medical plastics: Copolyester barrier films and breathable TPE films

A well known film producer of medical films has selected a copolyester to produce films that have better barrier properties as well as better clarity. Tekniflex PGA and PGOA films are based on multi-layer lamination constructions and used in blister packaging applications for medical devices or drug product/device combinations. Besides, copolyester films can have good thermoformability. Eastar copolyester from Eastman Chemical offers excellent thermoforming properties for often complex medical trays and is unaffected by irradiation (Gamma or e-beam). The radiation is absolutely essential for medical products to obtain the required sterilized level of protection. The final package also offers good physical protection due to the material's stiffness and resilience.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) films have been known to offer flexibility as well as stretchability. Several types of TPES can be converted into films, but the films that provide best breathability are the ones produced from Polyester type of TPE, more so from Ether type of Polyester TPE.
Breathable TPE films offer advantages of smoother feel, higher permeability to perspiration and thus higher comfort as compared to vinyls and rubber latex products such as gloves used in the medical field. When laminated, these film structures find usage in garments in operating rooms as well as wound dressings.
The types of soft segment in TPE structure can introduce the breathability. The base polyether segment is commonly made of polyethylene oxide or propylene oxide block copolymers. The molecular weight of softer segment also influences the breathability, with higher molecular weight increasing breathability. Breathable TPE films can be extruded as monolayer films and can also be made by solution casting process. However, extrusion process is more commonly employed as it is more economical and free from pollution. Only very soft grades are extremely difficult to produce by melt extrusion process. They have to be manufactured by solution casting process. Blown extrusion film process is more preferred compared to extrusion cast process.

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