As a leader in polymer compounding for minimally invasive medical devices, Foster has developed a core competency in the custom compounding of thermoplastic elastomers. Thermoplastic elastomers are unique synthetic materials that combine some of the properties of rubber, with the processing advantages of thermoplastics. They consist of a number of families, including:
TPO’S – Polyolefin blends; Ethylene Propylene Diene Modified Rubber (EPDM), Ethylene Propylene Rubber (EPR), Flexible Polyolefin (FPO), Polyolefin Elastomer (POE)
SBC – Styrenic block copolymers; SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene), SEBS (styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene) and SIS (styrene-isoprene-styrene)
TPV – Thermoplastic vulcanizate; polyolefin alloys where the rubber portion is fully cured or partially cured
TPU – Thermoplastic polyurethane; polyether or polyester soft block segments coupled to aromatic or aliphatic isocyanate hard blocks
COPE – Copolyester; polyether soft block segments coupled to aromatic polyester hard blocks
PEBA – Polyether block amide and copolyamide elastomers
Like rubbers, the key properties of thermoplastic elastomers are hardness and flexibility. TPEs offer properties bridging the gap between rigid plastics and soft rubbers, like latex or silicone. The families overlap each other in these characteristics. The TPU’S, COPE’S and the PEBA’S offer the hardest and stiffest grades available, because of this they are sometimes referred to as the engineering thermoplastic elastomers.
Medical design engineers are constantly pushing the limits of these TPEs and are always looking for ways to achieve even higher performance than what is currently available. Engineers also want to narrow the specification tolerances, enabling their use in micro-precision molding and thin wall extrusion processes.
Foster ProFlex™ SEBS
ProFlex™ is a comprehensive range of medical grade Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene (SEBS) Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs) manufactured by Foster Corporation. These unique polymers offer excellent elastomeric properties, with superior design flexibility and ease of processing via injection molding and extrusion. ProFlex® SEBS is available in a range of durometers, with standard formulations, tear resistant and ProPell™ Low Friction formulations also available. Tailored hardness and melt flow properties are also available for custom orders.
ProFlex™ SEBS has passed USP Class VI testing for biocompatibility and is suitable for a variety of medical applications including catheters, surgical handles, ergonomic grips, among other uses.