The demand for biomedical textiles continues to grow as device OEMs look for strong yet flexible fabrics to replace
materials such as metal or plastic, and the movement is increasing competition in this segment of the industry. In a Q&A with the president and CEO of Biomedical Structures (Warwick, RI), Dean Tulumaris talks about the company’s strategy for growth in this expanding market.
OrthoTec: What specific areas of development are you seeing within using textiles for devices?
Dean Tulumaris: Right now we work with a lot of knit material, woven fabrics, and braids, and we have some unique capabilities with nonwovens. We’ll continue to grow because we’re adding a capability of 36- and 28-gauge knitters for scaffolds and soft tissue. We’re looking at more complex braiding designs, making bifurcated woven stent graft (which is a great new capability), orthopaedic tethers, bifurcated and tapered fabrics, more complex braid assemblies, and inner nonwoven [fabrics] for heart valves. We’re trying to expand our capabilities to support our customers in the orthopaedic and cardiovascular world by making smaller, thinner, and stronger fabrics for their applications.
Our goal is to add two or three new capabilities and products to our portfolio every year as we continue to grow.
We’d like to do more subassembly. Our Class 100,000 cleanrooms give us an ability to make and assemble medical products. We’re looking at applications for coatings, adhesives, and hydrogels, as well as packaging and labeling for our customers. Maybe down the road we’ll look at fiber extrusions.
As to whether we develop these capabilities in-house or make an acquisition, we’re developing a plan to look at what capabilities and products we want to offer and whether we can build it organically or go outside and make an acquisition to add capabilities.
OrthoTec: Are there specific applications in which BMS is focusing to grow its business?
- Bifurcated and tapered stent grafts. We don’t play in that arena so we want to work into that.
- Orthopaedic bifurcated and tapered tethers.
- Heart valves, and minimally invasive cardiac solutions. We will continue to make thin nonwovens for those applications.
- More complex braiding discovery.
- Finer gauge knitting with scaffolds and meshes.
|Biomedical textiles are often used as a replacement for structures in the human body.
OrthoTec: What current challenges does BMS face in the biomedical textiles market?
Tulumaris: Right now we’re in a good place; demand is very high. Our customers want a custom product. For our business, we’re not a commodities company per se. Our strategy is for the niche, highly engineered product to help solve problems in the fabrics industry for our customers. What we’re seeing is that a lot of our customers want the thinner, finer, smaller gauge products, and that’s what we’re working on with them at this point.
OrthoTec: What are the BMS goals for 2012?
Tulumaris: In 2012 we plan to expand our capabilities with 28 and 36 fine-gauge knitters, laser cutting, and additional value-added capabilities that will simplify our customer's supply chain process. In product development we will continue to expand our bifurcated stent market presence, and expand our braiding capabilities with more complex braids.
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