Soft Elastic News 04/2020 | TPE compounds for breathing masks

​​​​​​​Dear Customer,

Breathing masks are not only a hot topic right now – they are also absolutely vital wherever workers come into contact with pollutants in the air.

Better safe than sorry

Sample applications are varied and range from A for acetone to Z for zinc chloride. But let’s stay in the area of medical technology where scarcity has given rise to a certain degree of sensitivity and an urgent need for action. There are three types of respiratory protective masks depending on requirements: Filtering face pieces (FFP; fine particle mask, dust mask or respiratory protection filter) filter particles such as dust and aerosols out of ambient air. This type of respiratory protection is available in three degrees of protection: FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3. The higher the degree of protection, the better the performance of the filter. These respiratory protective masks also reliably filter even the smallest particles and droplets out of air. Masks with an exhalation valve offer a higher level of wearing comfort but masks without an exhalation valve also prevent the wearer from contaminating his environment with exhaled droplets.

Half-masks cover the mouth and nose and are sufficient in many areas. Depending on the product type, half-masks can be combined with various particle and gas filters. As a result, this type of respiratory protection is very versatile. The contaminants against which a mask protects depend on the filter used. Full masks cover the entire face, have a visor and therefore not only protect breathing but also the eyes. Like half-masks, they can be combined with filters against particles and gases. This type of respiratory protection can also be used in applications with particularly high concentrations of contaminants. Full masks are often used in combination with protective suits, e.g. when contaminants are also absorbed by skin. Slight resistance makes breathing through a respiratory mask more difficult than without.

High degree of wearing comfort, flexible, tolerated by the skin

While respiratory protective masks were often manufactured from impregnated material or with a cotton filter in the past (even during World War One) – the beak-shaped masks filled with herbs worn by medieval plague physicians can be regarded as precursors to breathing masks – they are made of rubber, PVC, silicone or TPE (or combinations of these materials) nowadays. The PROVAMED® 3150, 3160 and 3170 TL TPE compounds manufactured by ACTEGA DS are outstanding alternatives for the manufacture of valves and the surrounding sealing lips of FFP masks.

These translucent TPE compounds are distinguished by their particular compatibility with skin, good sealing properties, and flexibility accompanied by their media resistance. In the manufacture of these masks, often in a dual-component process, a particular adhesion is required on the part of the hard component – often made of PP – with the resilient component made of TPE. The highly-adhesive TPE produced by ACTEGA DS can guarantee such bonding. Masks with connectors and respiratory tubes are used in the area of emergency care. Often made from PVC, the tube needs to be firmly adhered to the mask. PROVAMED® 1345 TP and PROVAMED® 1360 TP have the potential to be bonded to PVC using standard MEK and THF solvents. These TPE are also distinguished by a balanced degree of flexibility, resistance to bending, and rigidity. They can be sterilized by means of Gamma radiation or ETO gas without impairing their material properties and display perfect adhesion, particularly to polystyrene, ABS, and PVC. Features which are also important in the general area of medical tube systems. The material formula is made up accordingly sensitively. Single-lumen tubes and monolayer tubes are used for transporting liquids and drugs during infusion, enteral and parenteral nutrition, in urology, and endoscopy. Multi-lumen or multi-layer tubes are used in emergency dialysis, as central venous catheters, in urology, and for fluid drainage. The areas of application for tubes in multi-layer design can include infusion lines and filling tubes for bag systems, pressure lines for angiography, administration of medication in oncology, and highly-flexible working channels with low sliding friction coefficients in endoscopy. And then there are tubes which are reinforced for use as respiration tubes. As a general rule, the following requirements need to be fulfilled: interactions between tube material and pharmaceutical or endogenous substances should be avoided; there must be no interaction with the plastic; the absorption of medication must be avoided, and the material must be resistant to media in every aspect. Other important aspects include the biocompatibility of the material in accordance with ISO 10993, its sterilizability using standard methods, transparency, and resistance to bending. Property profiles which are consistently satisfied by PROVAMED® TPE.

​​​​​​​On our own behalf:

Despite dispensing with personal discussions or participation in trade fairs, we are still here for you around the clock. Even before the crisis, we had equipped our IT to be crisis-proof by making all hardware and software available to service departments, enabling our employees to process your queries while continuing to work from home. Where important meetings are pending, they need not necessarily be postponed but can be simply and conveniently held by video conference. As a result, your projects are still up and running without any restrictions – for certain!

​​​​​​​And it also goes without saying that you can still contact us by email and phone as before. Stay healthy!