Plastics in Medical Applications

Next FuturEnergia chat will take place on 9 November from 10-11 CET. The purpose of this chat is to give students an understanding of the role of plastics in medical applications.

Futurologists predict a revolution in healthcare in the next 25 years that will dramatically extend human life spans. Children born then could have life expectancies stretching to 130 years. A combination of gene-based therapies, stem cell medicine and molecular-nanotechnology will introduce a new model of medical science which will prevent disease from occurring and will offer significant life extension and even physical and mental rejuvenation.

The chat will give students the opportunity to raise their questions directly to the industry: Marie-Rose Caputo, Sales Development Manager Plumbing & Healthcare, South Europe, together with Ole Grondahl Hansen, Managing Director of the PVC Information Council of Denmark, will be the experts answering questions during the chat. More info on their biography here


Plastics will play an important role in this revolution. Today, already 45 % of medical products consist of polymers. We already rely heavily on plastics to protect drugs from contamination and deterioration, use them in radiation, heat-sterilisable syringes, blood and nutritional bags as well as tubing systems. Modern lightweight plastic ECG equipment can be worn for extended periods to provide more accurate information on the patient’s condition. Plastic robots are being used increasingly to perform safer surgery; plastic receptacles deliver drugs to sites deep within the body and maintain anti-cancer drugs in blood plasma for longer periods than standard formulations. Plastics are also key components of modern prosthetic devices, providing comfort, flexibility mobility and a life-like appearance.




Why plastics in medical technology?
- Plastics are not only robust, reliable and easy to process, they also allow for an ergonomic design and colour matching of the desired application. In addition, they show a long-term performance, low friction and wear and require only low manufacturing costs. At the same time, they enable the delivery of new, more effective drugs.

What are the main medical breakthroughs related to plastics?
- Those range from contact lenses, one way injection, artificial hips, and continuous infusion to biodegradable sewing material or artificial comea.

o Example I: Insulin injection
366 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes; six million diabetics inject insulin several times a day (2 to 3 times). Previously, patients had to rely on glass syringes, which were hard to transport and easy to break. The needle injection caused painful pricks and injection in public could not be done “undercover”. Polymer-based insulin pens, however, can be easily transported in handbags etc.; high pressure “shoots” the drug product under the skin, avoiding painful pricks. Also, the patient can inject himself while other people do not notice it.

o Example II: Aerosol inhalation
235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. Plastics have made it possible for asthmatics to move away from dry powder inhalation to aerosol inhalation, which allows particles to be immediately transported to the lungs without provoking cough anymore.



These are some indicative questions that can help students better understand the topic of the chat. Students are encouraged to have a look at these questions in advance of the chat, do some background research, discuss in class and use these or other relevant questions when chatting with the expert.

1. What’s the most common type of plastics used in medical applications? Why?

2. What happens after the medical applications mentioned above are used? Can most products be recycled?

3. Which EU states have the lowest/highest customer demand for medical applications?

4. How strict is the testing of plastics being in constant contact with the human body, such as implant devices?

5. Where do you see the future of healthcare? Will doctors be replaced by robots one day?

6. What are the steps from the development of ideas for a new medical application until its introduction to the market? How much time does this need? What are the regulatory challenges?

7. In how far are biodegradable plastics used in medical applications?


Would you like to participate? Are you interested in this event? Write to and register for this chat!