Index 2017


From the emergency room to the home

The medical and healthcare industry will be an important sector at INDEX17 (c) 2017 Index
The nonwovens industry is driving innovation in the medical and healthcare industry (the Med Tech sector), delivering cost-effective solutions and responding to the growing concern of hospital-acquired and surgical infections, while also meeting the Med Tech sector’s constant search for new technologies to better handle complex surgical procedures.
Indeed, nonwovens are being engineered to have increasingly absorptive, liquid-repellent and virus and bacterial barrier properties, amongst others. These properties are integrated into medical products such as wound dressings, surgical masks, gowns, drapes and implantable surgical fabrics.

“Modern nonwoven solutions provide more cost-effective and efficient solutions than other materials in advanced wound care, effectively treating acute and chronic wounds,” commented Pieter Meijer, Sales Director Medical Division at McAirlaids. “Superabsorbent polymers are a crucial raw material used in the manufacture of nonwoven products, which are used in advanced surgeries and treatments due to their high capability to retain discharges and their property to heal wounds faster.”

While nonwovens are continually being developed into new, transitional or innovative products, they are also improving patient care and comfort and replacing other less versatile materials. Visitors and exhibitors will gather at INDEX™17, the world’s leading nonwovens exhibition, in Geneva from 4th-7th April 2017, to gain first-hand knowledge of the latest developments in nonwovens for medical applications, with exhibitors showcasing the astonishing functional qualities of these versatile materials.

Reducing infection and improving treatment

Nonwovens present numerous advantages in surgical procedures, primarily as single-use gowns and drapes and, to a lesser extent, for cell integration and tissue regeneration. Developed economies have now widely replaced cotton/linen medical fabrics with single-use ones, and this is increasingly becoming the case in developing countries. This shift is being made slowly but steadily, a noteworthy development in the healthcare sector, given that single-use fabrics used in items such as surgical gowns and drapes considerably reduce the risk of infection.

Nonwovens are also used, albeit to a lesser extent, in tissue scaffolds, providing a greater surface area than most other biomedical textiles, which bring specific benefits to implantable devices. More specifically, nonwovens are able to promote cellular growth through specific spacing, layer thickness and material integrity which allows for customised performance and controlled absorption profiles. 3D tissue scaffolds are even being used for biological engineering.

The patch revolution

Another development is also occurring in the industry, with transdermal nonwoven patches currently being promoted for drug delivery. Already very popular in the US, these “smart” medical patches are constantly evolving and potentially represent a huge market for nonwovens. From vitamin supplement patches to painkillers, there are endless possibilities for their application. In a few years, they might even be a replacement for needles.

Home care boom

The boom in the home care sector is another trend shaping this sector. With an aging population and an increased burden from chronic illness causing an explosion in health expenditures, hospitals are looking for options to not only save costs on admitted patients, but to also provide professional levels of care in a home-setting for those individuals who don’t need full time nursing care or supervision. This has led to increased in-home care, with affordable nonwoven wound and other products now available in retail stores. In this regard, aesthetics and convenience have become essential in home care products. Patients and healthcare professionals are looking for an improved care experience through easy and ready-to-use products.
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