The global demand for SBCs in the medical and healthcare industry is expected to reach 177.1 kilo tons in 2018. Demand for SBCs in the medical industry is primarily driven by the shift in trend to replace PVC products owing to health and environmental issues related with its usage. However, volatility in raw material prices is one of the critical challenges decelerating the market growth. The world in order to minimize the effect of constant fluctuation of raw material price is shifting towards the use of bio-based alternatives for synthetic SBCs. Bio-based SBCs along with being environment friendly are also economically feasible compared to their synthetic counterparts.
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The global demand for SBCs in medical equipments and diagnostic products is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6% from 2012 to 2018. In terms of revenues, the market is expected to reach USD 95.9 million by 2018.
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Styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) posses special characteristics which makes them suitable to be used for manufacturing various medical devices such as medical bags, medical tubing, syringes etc. The medical industry in order to replace PVC is shifting focus towards using a range of thermoplastic elastomers including SBCs. Some of the characteristics exhibited by SBCs include:
- Crystal clarity
- Design versatility
- High resistance
- Excellent thermal stability
- Sterilizable by gamma irradiation, ethylene oxide gas
- Demonstrate no cytotoxic, mutagenic or irritant potential
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The medical industry uses different grades of SBC for manufacturing various medical devices. Some of the most common grades of SBCs used in the medical industry include:
- Injection molding grade
- Sheet and thermoforming grade Typically blended with crystal polystyrene for rigid packaging markets; also used in profile extrusion
- Film grade Used in applications where excellent clarity, stiffness and permeability is required
- Blow molding grade
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