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Medical Adhesive : Fastest Growing Segment

Adhesives are critical components in the design and manufacture of the majority of medical devices. As medical devices become smaller and more complex, greater demands are being made on the materials and components used in them. New advances are widening the performance envelope for medical adhesives.

Variations in polymer compositions, coupled with compounding differences, are allowing properties to be tailored to meet specific application requirements, including biostability, sterilization effects, and mechanical properties. Perhaps even more exiting are estimates that only about one-half of the applications that could be served by adhesives are actually using adhesives in assembly, leaving significant growth opportunity. By all measures, growth potential is very attractive and this market segment generates a lot of interest among adhesive suppliers.


The market for adhesives used for medical applications is one of the exciting segments in the specialty chemicals industry.

As per a recent report by the Business Communications Company the 2001 US market for specialty adhesives was about $5.7 billion, and is forecast to grow at 4.3% per year, with medical and dental applications being the fastest-growing sector at 5.9% per year. Frost and Sullivan report the size of the European PSA market (medical and non-medical) to be $620 million in 2000, and $796 million in 2007.

Zion Research has published a new report titled “Medical Adhesives and Sealants (Synthetic and Natural) Market for Internal, External and Dental Applications: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast, 2014 – 2020.” According to the report, global demand for medical adhesives and sealants market was valued at USD 6.0 billion in 2014, and is expected to reach USD 10.50 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 8.5% between 2015 and 2020.

North America is the largest market, both in terms of volume and value, followed by Europe. China, U.S., Japan, India, and Germany are expected to persist as successful medical adhesives markets. The key players in the medical adhesives market are Bostik Ltd. (France), Henkel AG & Company (Germany), B. Braun Melsungen AG (Germany), 3M Company (U.S.), CryoLife, Inc. (U.S.), Chemence Ltd. (U.K.), Cyberbond LLC (U.S.), Itac Ltd. (U.S.), Ethicon Inc. (U.S.), Covidien Ltd. (Ireland), GluStitch Inc. (Canada), Adhezion Biomedical (U.S.), Cohera Medical, Inc. (U.S.), Baxter International Inc. (U.S.), Gem S.r.l (Italy), Meyer-Haake Gmbh (Germany), and Biocoral, Inc. (France) , and others.

The medical adhesives demand, in terms of value and volume, depicts the current and future projections according to the parallel economic and industrial outlook. This analysis covers important developments, investments & expansions, partnerships & agreements, and mergers & acquisitions of the leading global companies.

Cost cutting in the healthcare industry is a reality and likely here to stay. Hospitals and other large healthcare providers have formed very successful buying groups who are pressuring suppliers for lower prices and additional services, which, in turn, create cost pressures on all suppliers throughout the value chain. In some instances, high-end devices that were manufactured for single use are being cleaned via sophisticated on-site processes to stretch the healthcare dollar even further. There has also been significant consolidation via merger and acquisition of participants at all levels of the value chain. In recent years, large distributors have emerged and everyone is aware of the consolidation of hospital and other large healthcare providers. As a result, the industry screams for lower total costs, and adhesives offer the potential for ever-increasing production speeds.

Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive

Some of the applications of Pressure – Sensitive Adhesive are plaster and pads, transdermal drug delivery systems (TDDS), Tapes, biomedical electrodes, self-adhesive hydrogels and surgical drapes. Pressure Sensitive Adhesive tapes are most widely used.

Pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes (PSAs) are easily adapted to a range of medical applications from joining components like panels in medical equipment, to joining and sealing parts in handheld diagnostic devices, to joining and sealing surgical drapes and wound care dressings to skin.

PSA tapes require pressure to adhere to a surface. These tapes can be formulated to form high strength bonds when used in medical equipment or to join different dressing and drape substrates together, or to provide gentle adhesion when used in a stick-to-skin application. PSA tapes can be acrylics, silicones, or styrene block co-polymers.

Stick-to-skin PSAs have the following general properties:

• Nontoxicity;
• Adhesion to organic and inorganic surfaces;
• 100% solid;
• Optimized for wetting and gap filling;
• Working characteristics suitable for high-volume production
• Compatibility with different forms of sterilization;
• Sterilizable;

Hydrocolloids and silicone PSAs are increasingly popular for their low skin trauma characteristics. These medical tapes are often required to provide secure adhesion for a device or dressing long enough for a therapeutic effect to occur. When adhesion is too low, the device won’t stay in place long enough; too high and the skin and wound may suffer trauma upon removal of the device or dressing.