Hydrophilic coatings are one of the applications through which surface of biomaterials can be modified. Often the surface of a biomaterial is adapted to maximize its performance. They need to be physically and chemically inert (nonreactive) with the body, as well as integrate when with tissue. Lubricity, durability, thickness, wettability, flexibility, abrasion resistance and storage stability are some of the key requirements for consistent performance from a hydrophilic coating. Lubricity is a property that describes how slippery a surface is, i.e., the value of its friction coefficient. For example, when hydrophilic coatings are used, friction in the arteries is reduced drastically due to their high surface energy (slippery surface treatment) by forming a waxy surface texture, when compared to bare wires.
An understanding of device application is important to know whether the device will profit from a hydrophilic coating or not. There are several key pieces of information to collect. Selecting a hydrophilic vendor becomes a priority only after basic parameters of a coating application are understood and the product requirements are noted. Every vendor holds unique abilities and core competencies. Aside from specialization in different areas of chemistry, different coating vendors have different methodologies.
Hydrophilic coatings have major applications in the field of medical devices and ophthalmology. Possible applications include micro-catheters, catheters, balloons, guide wires, introducers, sheaths, lead wires, intraocular (IOL) cartridges, vertebral cages, meshes, endoscopes, blood contacting surfaces that require antithrombogenicity, sliding surfaces that require lubricity, etc. In the field of ophthalmology, intraocular lenses (IOLs) are small devices used as substitutes for the natural lens in the eye, in cases where age or trauma has caused degradation of the natural lens. Hydrophilic coatings also have applications in the field of automation such as hydrophilic and self-cleaning coatings, thin-film rain sensor for wiper control, ice-free windscreens, etc.
The hydrophilic coatings market in automotive industry is driven by growing integration of displays with touch panel (with features such as anti-fingerprint coatings) and sensors (such as sensor for wiper control) in vehicles. The hydrophilic coatings market in medical industry is driven by increasing awareness about minimally invasive surgeries, which use medical devices with hydrophilic coatings. With increasing disposable income and people being concerned about their health and wellbeing, the market is estimated to surge in near future because of the demand for improved medical facilities. This suggests that future iterations of hydrophilic coatings will be multifunctional and personalized more specifically to applications. However, this growth in medical industry may be hindered to some extent by varying government regulation regarding medical devices across various countries.
Based on the varying applications, hydrophilic coatings market can be segmented into : medical devices, optics, automotive, etc. Based on the material on which hydrophilic coatings is applied, market can be segmented into : metals, glass/ceramics, polymers, nanoparticles, etc.
The highest market share for medical device coating technology is supposed to be held by North America, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. The U.S. alone is projected to possess the biggest market and is anticipated to retain its control in the global market of medical device coating. Still, Asia Pacific is likely to have major growth in near future because of the boost in developing medical markets.
Some of the major companies offering hydrophilic coatings via licensing, outsourcing, or other models are Aculon Inc., Advansource Biomaterials, AST Products, Biocoat, Coatings2Go, DSM, Harland Medical Systems, Hydromer, PolyBioMed (Bayer), Surface Solutions Group, Surmodics, Teleflex. Some of the major ophthalmologic device companies which use IOL cartridges are Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, Abbott Medical Optics and Hoya Medical.
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