Plastazote® polyethylene foam helps global response to COVID-19

As the world battles the current COVID-19 pandemic, Zotefoams is pleased to be able to support the medical community using Plastazote® polyethylene foams from the AZOTE® range.

Latex-free, non-toxic and hypoallergenic, Plastazote is already the most-cited thermoplastic foam in medical literature for skin contact suitability, with medical grades tested to ISO10993 (Biological evaluation of medical devices). The current increase in usage is largely for applications such as personal protective equipment (PPE), demand for which is increasing exponentially as its vital role in protecting frontline medical staff and others from this highly contagious virus becomes clear.

Medical device manufacturer J-Pac Medical is now producing face shields at its plant in Somersworth, New Hampshire, USA and has opted to use lightweight Plastazote LD15 in a 38mm (1.5”) headband. The closed cell characteristics of Plastazote mean that it prevents moisture absorption and provides protection from vertical contaminants. Soft and flexible, it is comfortable even for extended periods and its unequalled purity means that the potential for skin irritation is minimal.

The properties of Plastazote derive primarily from the unique Zotefoams’ method of expansion using only pure nitrogen – which constitutes 78% of the air we breathe. By contrast, the chemical reaction used by other manufacturers to expand foams leaves residues in the material, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially causing sensory and skin irritation.

Plastazote has a closed cell structure, which prevents moisture absorption and it can also be reliably cleaned or disinfected with standard chemicals, should reuse be necessary.

Aside from PPE applications, the current demand for oxygenation and breathing aids is also driving demand for Plastazote. Its inert, non-toxic properties and ease of fabrication mean it is the ideal material for lightweight components in ventilators. Plastazote is an essential resource for protecting sensitive medical devices such as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) units during transit, with the attractive strength to weight ratio of grades such as Plastazote LD45WE reducing transport on-costs by optimising size and weight, while protecting from shocks, chemicals and liquids.

The purity of Plastazote and its AZOTE stablemate Evazote® guarantees high lucency for X-rays CT scans and MRI scans, which are used to help clinicians determine the extent of disease in patients.

Zotefoams Group CEO David Stirling comments, “This is a uniquely challenging and worrying time for all of us but the fact that Plastazote is playing such an important role is creating a real sense of shared purpose across our global team. Knowing that we are contributing to the protection of frontline workers is inspiring and I am proud of the way Zotefoams employees are adapting to different ways of working.”