SABIC PDI Collaborate on Stress Cracking Study for Medical Device Plastics to Help Protect Patients from Infection 

by PlastixANZ 

HOUSTON, (October 13) – SABIC, a global leader in thermoplastic technology, and PDI, a leader in infection prevention products and solutions for the healthcare industry, today announced the results of a joint study on the environmental stress cracking resistance (ESCR) of SABIC’s materials used for medical device enclosures. The two companies evaluated how well SABIC’s industry-leading thermoplastics withstand repeated exposure to PDI’s Super Sani-Cloth® wipes1, one of the leading surface disinfectants widely used in the healthcare environment to help prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The study revealed that several of SABIC’s product technologies – including LEXAN™ EXL polycarbonate (PC) resin, XYLEX™ (PC/polyester blend) resin and VALOX™ polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin – deliver improved compatibility with PDI’s leading hospital-grade disinfectant. These and other products in SABIC’s robust portfolio of chemically resistant healthcare materials give manufacturers new options for designing medical equipment that maintains outstanding performance, while also addressing the disinfection demands of today’s healthcare environment.

PDI and SABIC collaborated to establish a testing procedure following ASTM D543 guidelines, and applied more stringent compatibility criteria compared to other benchmarks often used in the industry. SABIC has published the study findings in its updated and expanded brochure, Resistance + Durability: Chemical Resistance Performance Testing for Healthcare Materials. Also featured in the brochure is a new section, “Designing for ESCR,” which describes why following best practices in injection molding processing and designs can be instrumental in reducing molded-in stress, a key contributor to ESCR performance. 

“Combatting HAIs is greatly important for hospitals, but if materials are not appropriately selected for the healthcare environment, the frequent application of cleaning chemicals can cause device enclosures to crack prematurely, which can lead to increased maintenance costs for healthcare providers,” said Cathleen Hess, Healthcare business leader for SABIC. “SABIC and PDI are committed to supporting the healthcare industry with information about compatibility between medical enclosure materials and commonly used disinfectants. Our joint study highlights the complex issue of environmental stress cracking, and provides valuable insights to help our customers make informed material selection decisions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Although significant progress has been made in preventing some infection types, there is much more work to be done. On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.”2 The World Health Organization (WHO) reported:  “Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by health care-associated infections worldwide each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems.”3

“With heightened emphasis on infection control in healthcare environments, medical devices are regularly subjected to repeated contact with hospital-grade disinfectants and, as a result, require exceptionally strong materials that are less vulnerable to environmental stress cracking,” said Cheryl Moran, senior director of Portfolio Management, PDI Infection Prevention. “By guiding manufacturers towards plastics that are better suited for the specific disinfecting requirements of each medical device, our study benefits both medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers, ultimately benefiting the patient, who can be protected from potential adverse events resulting from damaged or improperly disinfected equipment. Continuing our collaboration with SABIC and medical equipment manufacturers will enable even further insights as additional technologies emerge.”

Evaluating ESCR

Environmental stress cracking is a complex problem that calls for in-depth knowledge of disinfectant and polymer chemistries and their compatibility, as well as part design and molding considerations. It is influenced by each aspect of the application development process, including, but not limited to, polymer morphology, chemical type and concentration, frequency of cleaning and residual stress in molded components. The new SABIC/PDI study evaluated the compatibility of select SABIC materials with PDI's Sani-Cloth® wipes containing an alcohol/quaternary ammonium compound (QAC)-based disinfectant. This intermediate-level disinfectant provides broad-spectrum efficacy with a two-minute contact time. 


Each medical device application requires a tailored approach to optimizing performance in today's hospital environment. SABIC's application and process development engineers are available to assist customers throughout the material selection, application development and molding process.

SABIC’s extensive portfolio of chemical resistant healthcare materials is available worldwide.

1 Manufactured and distributed in the U.S.

2 Healthcare-associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report. CDC website. Updated March 3, 2016.

3 Health care-associated infections fact sheet. World Health Organization.


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