|Pinta offers medical device components made from foam and foam composites.|
Five decades ago, a tool and die shop known as Illbruck Inc. opened its doors in Leverkusen, Germany. That company made its mark by becoming the first company in the world to die-cut foam, a material originally introduced to the market by German manufacturing giant Bayer. In 1978, Illbruck opened its first U.S. production plant in Minneapolis and has been supplying products to the medical, automotive, sports and recreation, and many other industries ever since. Today, however, that company calls itself Pinta Foamtec Inc. (Minneapolis).
“Pinta Foamtec is a custom converter of foam plastic products that has been supplying the medical device industry since day one,” comments Mark Frederick, the company’s managing director and president. “And Minneapolis has a large population of medical device companies, so it was a natural fit for custom foam production and packaging.”
Employing a process known as solution engineering, the company uses advanced fabrication techniques and polymer chemistry to produce a variety of medical device components from foam and foam composites. These components include foams for filtration, solution delivery, and containment; protective foams for braces, supports, and wound-care applications; and insulating foams for temperature management.
“A variety of different chemistries and manufacturing processes can fine-tune characteristics in foam, making it a good fit for a host of medical applications,” Frederick says. “The material offers designers a full palette of potential formulations: They can use it to absorb, seal, filter, wick, cushion, insulate, or support loads. And to solve even more-complex application problems, you can heat it, compress it, and laminate it to change its characteristics.”
Foam can play a crucial role in surgery masks, cervical collars, thermal insulation products, fluid regulators, laser surgery and other filters, oral swabs, protective packaging, and acoustic absorbers and dampers, according to Frederick. “This kind of versatility makes it unique as a design material,” he says. “And thanks to how it is fabricated and the materials used to make it, foam can take on a wide range of different properties, including shape retention, water resistance or absorbency, porosity, density, and myriad other physical characteristics.”
The company’s foam has been used in many medical applications, including a collection tray for managing fluids in hysteroscopic procedures. Combining design, material know-how, and prototyping expertise, the company fabricated the tray using a nonporous polyethylene foam with a ‘memory.’ “This material always returns to its original position,” Frederick notes. “And it’s also easy to mold.” The result, he says, is a flexible foam solution that provides a simple and cost-effective answer to a common operating-room problem.
Pinta Foamtec Inc.
Published in MPMN, September 2010, Volume 26, No. 7
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