- Front Page
May 30, 2012
By Andrew Cox
HELSINKI, Finland, May 30, 2012/ Troy Media/ – During the recent Helsinki Chemical Forum 2012, the Finnish start-up company Onbone Oy provided a demonstration of its new product range WOODCAST – orthopaedic casts made from a composite of wood chips and biodegradable plastics.
Onbone is considered as an excellent example of how basic university research can be turned into commercial products and a potentially successful international business.
Founding partners Petro Lahtinen, CEO, and Antti Parssinen, R&D Manager, carried out the basic research at the Department of Chemistry of Helsinki University. The two researchers brought together a biodegradable polymer process (which is based around an innovative open-pot polymerisation technology and a novel catalyst) with the use of wood chip products.
The technology and product they had developed could be used to produce medical casts – a market which has barely changed in several decades.
The WOODCAST product has significant advantages over existing medical cast products – that it is safe, non-toxic, and quick to apply (it takes about five minutes for sheets of the material to be heated to 65 degrees C, cut to shape and then applied on the body). Plus sections of WOODCAST can be easily reheated so that they can be remoulded if required.
Globally, the medical castings market is quite substantial – with an estimated turnover of Euro1.5bn. Current products are messy, cumbersome and toxic (using ingredients such as fibreglass).
Onbone Oy was created in 2008 and currently has six employees based in Helsinki. However, a further 50 staff are employed in Finnish contractors who manufacture the products.
Onbone are currently selling the product in Finnish and Scandinavian hospitals. Marketing is now expanding to other countries around the world. Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation, has been involved in Onbone’s product development and globalisation projects.
Samples of WOODCAST – which had been preheated and could be easily moulded by hand – were provided during the Forum. The samples vividly demonstrated the flexibility and other properties of the product.
During an informal Q&A session Lahtinen added that other potential uses of the product are being evaluated – and the technology could be expanded to utilise other (non-wood) plant materials (such as hemp fibres).
On April 23, Onbone was awarded the prestigious Chemical Industry Innovation Award by the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland.
WOODCAST has been certified under ISO 13485, the medical device standard for hospitals.
Further information about the product can be found at: www.onbone.com.
Andrew Cox is an energy and environmental consultant – trading as Energy Intelligence & Marketing Research – based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
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