Velcro? At Medica? Really?

November 16, 2011 – 11:37 pm

With the exception of blood-pressure cuffs, it never occurred to me to put Velcro and medical devices in the same thought bubble. The distinctive ripping sound the material makes as it is pulled apart and its generally gritty aspect just don’t lend it a medical aura. So when I saw that Velcro had a medical division and that it had a stand at Medica this year, I had to drop by and ask a few questions. It turns out that there is a lot I did not know about Velcro.

The hook-and-loop technology has myriad applications in healthcare from the aforementioned cuffs and fairly familiar orthopaedic braces to ostomy pouches and surgical products. And then there are sequential compression devices, which are a booming market right now for Velcro, according to Kathryn Pries, Strategic Business Unit Manager. That’s because of a recently passed law in the United States that makes the treatment of hospital-acquired infections among patients enrolled in Medicare the financial responsibility of the hospital. It just so happens that Velcro is a fastener of choice for compression devices that hospitals are using en masse to prevent the pooling of blood in the lower calf of the leg, as can happen when patients are immobile for a long period of time, say, in a hospital.

Beyond the raw materials and fabrication capabilities, Velcro, somewhat surprisingly, also offers finished products to medical device OEMs as part of its global medical solutions.

Sustainability is also a focus. Pries draws attention to a new polypropylene hook-and-loop-style fastener that can be reground and pelletised. “PP is the resin of choice, but other materials can be used,” says Pries, “and the whole assembly can be easily recycled.”

Velcro has a global footprint, with manufacturing and R&D centres in Spain, China, the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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