2019 Market Trends Series: Healthcare Faces Supply Chain and Tech Disruption

January 8, 2019 • Posted in Market Insights

In this installment of “2019 Market Trends: What’s Next for Plastics?”, our Global Healthcare Market Manager, Josh Blackmore, discusses 3D printing, sensing technology, supply chain disruptions, and more. Here is what Josh had to say about the healthcare market:

“Both the medical device and healthcare packaging markets are reacting to intrusive external inputs that are testing the industry’s ability to withstand gale force winds, both head and tail, and forcing the industry to make critical adjustments. Some of the strongest winds of change are coming from technology improvements in manufacturing devices through 3D printing, sensing technology creating new patient monitoring opportunities, and supply chain disruptions.

Manufacturing to the Unit of One

Creating unique parts one at a time, in a cost-effective manner is the holy grail of manufacturing. Historically, the plastics industry has functioned differently – until now. 3D printing is enabling the healthcare industry to make an obsolete part or a surgical tool on-demand, for a fraction of the cost. It also allows for the creation of custom prosthetics, which can require frequent adjustment and replacement, such as those for children. Additionally, the glass and carbon fiber in 3D printing materials provides extra reinforcement for medical high-strength parts and resin-rich appearance parts. One of the best examples of adoption in healthcare applications has been in hearing aids, most of which are 3D printed today.

Builders Build and Sensors Sense

Electronics and plastics are a match made in heaven, especially when used for monitoring and diagnostics for patients with chronic diseases. Garmin, Omron, Contec, Welch Allyn, Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Abbot POC, Fitbit, Suunto, Jabra, Tckr Fit, and many other companies are producing FDA-regulated health monitoring devices for point-of-care (POC) diagnostics or home usage. Health trackers have proven that consumers are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to monitor barely actionable diagnostics, such as the number of steps they take in a day. Can you imagine what they would pay for real-time monitoring of blood pressure, cancer markers, blood diagnostics, and a host of other vital signs? I expect this trend will continue and that we’ll see more research on and development of these devices in 2019.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Supply chain disruptions are set to continue in 2019, and everyone in the healthcare universe knows that raw material changes greatly impact medical devices and can cause them to be removed from legally-marketed lists. To stay competitive in the space, it is important to be in regular communication with resin suppliers to ensure their dedication to the medical market and avoid disruptions from material changes. M. Holland has performed a risk review of existing medical grades and published a list of low-risk medical grades, complete with a resin gap filling strategy to help manufacturers source the best and most reliable medical grade resins.”

Plastic Resin Distributor M Holland Josh Blackmore – Authored by Josh Blackmore, Market Manager, Global Healthcare

In our next installment of the 2019 Market Trend Series, we will hear from M. Holland’s Market Manager for Automotive, Matt Zessin. Stay tuned and check back in for more, including market outlooks from our film and flexible packaging, wire and cable, rotational molding, and color and compounding market managers.

What are you most excited about for plastics and the healthcare market in 2019? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

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