Royal DSM N.V has forayed into the market of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for use in total joint arthroplasty and other medical devices. In the coming years DSM Biomedical plans to invest a significant amount in a research and development program focused on UHMWPE grades with optimized material properties, specifically aimed at currently unmet clinical needs in this orthopedic segment.
In the medical industry UHMWPE is used as a bearing material for joint arthroplasty. The material is applied in for example artificial hips, knees, as well as in shoulders, elbows, wrists, ankles and spinal disks. These devices require bearing materials that are strong, have a high resistance against abrasion and are of the highest purity levels, necessary for the application inside human bodies. As a result of the ageing population and other demographic factors such as growing obesity problems, the market for orthopedic devices including artificial joints is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. DSM is already active in the orthopedic market with Dyneema Purity®, a fiber technology which was developed specially to obtain the required highest levels of quality and purity in medical applications, such as orthopedic implants.