SUZHOU, China—Tekni-Plex Inc.'s Natvar business is adding capacity for silicone extrusion in China.
The firm is installing an additional silicone tubing line at its Suzhou site that will enable it to provide smaller sized tubes to the local medical device market.
"It's really because of the rise and the growth in the China market, especially in the medical market," Daniel Lazas, senior director of sales optimization for Tekni-Plex's medical components business, said at the Medical Design and Manufacturing West show, held recently in Anaheim, Calif. "It's been going through quite a dynamic growth and there's still (sourcing)from outside of China. They're really pushing to buy in China, so we think there are a lot of opportunities there."
The firm said one extruder was not enough to provide the variety of sizes Chinese medical customers were looking for. Natvar said the new tubing capability ranges from an inside diameter from just under 1 inch down to 8,000th of an inch.
This newly expanded range of single-lumen silicone tubing is intended to better serve a range of medical pump applications. Natvar said this includes peristaltic and patient-controlled analgesia pumps.
"They want different sizes," Lazas said. "You have to be able to do certain things very well and you have to have the range that people are looking for."
Natvar said its silicone tubing can withstand a wide range of temperatures and chemicals while maintaining strength and flexibility. It also does not support microbiological growth, which is key for medical and pharmaceutical pump applications.
The firm produces its products to customer specifications and is a subsidiary of Tekni-Plex. Based in Wayne, Pa., Tekni-Plex focuses on developing and producing packaging materials, medical compounds and medical tubing with manufacturing sites across eight countries. Of those, Natvar operates within five—located in the U.S., Costa Rica, China and Belgium.
The Suzhou facility opened in 2017, backed by a $15 million investment to support the growing needs of the Asia-Pacific pharmaceutical and medical device markets, as well as to provide a secondary supply source for other regions.
Lazas added there is opportunity within China's medical market as the country moves toward establishing more local sources of products.
"China is pushing very aggressively to source locally," Lazas said. "The difficulty is that some of these precision components for medical devices aren't available locally, so we're making an early investment in what I think everyone knows is coming. If you can source locally with the quality that's available in other parts of the world, you'll win that business."