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Anti-Microbial Acetals: 2006 News & Perspectives

-By Greg Martino-

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and acetal? Well, it may not roll off the tongue but this giant in the world of plastics continues to be, along with nylon, the standard by which all other engineering materials are judged. It is true that the world we live in is a dynamic environment, full of new and exciting changes. Every day we hear about technology that will change our lives and make our current way of life obsolete. The world of plastics has long been at the forefront of this technology curve. There seem to be new polymers introduced every week and many of these polymers have been instrumental in the continued advances in almost every area of our lives. Our industry’s firm commitment to new technologies has kept plastics a key player in our nation’s economy.

Trying to keep up with this technology can disorient and overwhelm even the most technically savvy among us. We can easily be lulled into the notion that almost no technology of today will be state-of-the-art in another 10 years or so. We must, however, look at our future with a keen awareness of our past. As an example, cooking over an open flame is technology that is thousands of years old, yet it persists, why? Two reasons; first, it works and it works well and second, the technology has advanced over time, without changing the original concept.

So goes the technology behind the new Anti-Microbial Acetals. This combination offers the broad range of product groups that acetal has historically served, with the newer technology required by the medical and food processing industries. The antimicrobial effect of this product is achieved by a gradual release of silver ions homogeneously distributed throughout the material. Silver is a well established antimicrobial, has no known association with developed bacterial resistance and is safe for human use.

Acetal is well known for its superior dimensional stability, excellent resistance to moisture and chemicals and its excellent wear properties. The antimicrobial addition to this product gives the additional benefits of: reduced bacterial contamination; reduced odor and biofilm on the material surface; reduced discoloration caused by microbes and also provides a backup in case of inadequate cleaning in difficult to reach areas. Due to the gradual release mechanism of this additive, you have the additional benefit of a continuously renewed effect with every cleaning or minor abrasion of the surface.

Antimicrobial acetal can be used in applications with maximum long term service temperatures of up to 212ºF, with short term spikes of up to 280ºF. It is also a broadly processable material and can be molded, extruded or thermoformed into a wide variety of shapes. Current applications include conveyor chains in the meat and poultry, beverage/bottling, pharmaceutical, baking and packaging industries, frequently used components in official buildings (door handles, buttons on elevators, diaper changing tables), buttons and handles in public transportation systems, water dispensers, ice machines, filtration equipment and handles for surgical equipment.

Don’t be fooled by the age of this product or by the continued expansion of global manufacturing and distribution. There are still innovative companies committed to new processes and materials that, as BASF famously says “make the products you already buy, better”.

For more information, about antimicrobial acetal products contact Fran Alder, Medical Products Market Manager, Ensinger, Inc. at or 440-796-9029.

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