CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—Transformation is inevitable.
Given all the world has been through in the last year, and given the ways in which technology is changing consumer lifestyles and expectations, it's inevitable that the medical device industry would change, too.
During a keynote presentation that kicked off Rubber & Plastics News' Healthcare Elastomers Conference, Max Kley, CEO and president of Freudenberg Medical, explored some of the trends that are driving the industry forward through a decade that began with a global pandemic.
Trends that traditionally have driven growth throughout the medical device industry remain at the core of the market today. The growing, aging world population is pushing suppliers and manufacturers to find new solutions to support quality and longevity of life.
But in the wake of a transformative global pandemic, other trends are emerging. Sustainability, innovation and technology will be driving forces behind the industry in the years ahead.
Sustainability in the medical sector looks different than other end markets because patient safety is the core issue that dictates the feasibility of reusable devices and components. In many cases, Kley said, the FDA is encouraging the use of single-use devices.
While this approach is not environmentally sustainable on the surface, sustainability of medical devices are built in the manufacturing processes. How you make a device or material becomes the critical sustainability approach.
"There is still a strong trend toward single-use devices," Kley said, noting he doesn't think that will change. "On the other hand, our customers are asking us for more sustainable solutions and are asking us how do we manufacture their devices? Are we using renewable energy?
"I think the medical device industry is trending in this direction. When it comes to materials, this is a trend that will certainly play out. Materials that may use less energy to be manufactured or use less-hazardous ingredients will have an edge in the marketplace."
The U.S. remains the largest market for medical devices, accounting for about 40-45 percent of the overall market share, and it is worth about $173 billion annually. Europe and Japan follow the U.S., with market shares worth about $114 billion and $30 billion, respectively.
All of these markets are set to grow as well. The compound annual growth rates for all three hovers around 4.5 percent.