MATERIALS: Nano-Reinforced Nylon Alloys for Structural Medical Components

Foster's Nanomed MAX compounds designed for medical device components that require high strength.

A line of nylon compounds specifically designed for medical device components that require high strength, yet can use neither metals nor traditional reinforced plastics, are newly available from Foster Corp., Putnam, Conn. The Nanomed MAX compounds are based on an alloy of meta-xylene diamine (MX) nylon from Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. (U.S. office in New York, N.Y.), are United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Class VI tested and suitable for reusable instruments or components that must withstand gamma, e-beam and ethylene oxide sterilization.

Moreover, these compounds incorporate nanoclay platelet-shaped particles—less than a nanometer thick and up to 1000 times greater in surface diameter, to provide reinforcement at the molecular level. This reportedly enhances the polymer’s strength and rigidity without hindering flow into thin sections. Containing less than 10% by weight of the nanoparticles, these compounds have been demonstrated to have 15% higher tensile strength than unmodified PEEK, and at about half the price. “Unlike PEEK, Nanomed MAX compounds do not require the high-temperature injection molding or extrusion equipment…These alloys can be processed using standard mold and barrel heaters that are commonly used for nylons and polyesters,” says Foster’s executive v.p. Larry Johnson.