Cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs) are formed by chain copolymerization of cyclic monomers with ethene. COCs exhibit remarkable optical properties, which are similar to that of glass. These materials can resist high temperature and offer excellent transparency with low bi- refractivity. The monomer content in the COC affects its properties such as stiffness, viscosity, and glass transition temperature.
Monomers in a COC chain can be of two types, based on which COCs are classified into two groups: cyclic olefin copolymer (having different types of monomers) and cyclic olefin polymer (having a single type of monomer). However, they are termed together, due to their similar amorphous thermoplastic polymer properties.
Standard polymer processing techniques that are suitable for COCs include extrusion coating, compression molding, thermoforming, injection molding, single-screw and twin-screw extrusion, injection and stretch blow molding (ISBM), and biaxial orientation.
In order to achieve cost-effectiveness, the COC is used as a modifier for the base resin in either single-layer films or multilayer films. This provides the added properties of COCs to packaging films in addition to that of base resin (for example, polyethylene). Films made from different COC grades, which are based on ethylene and polyethylene, are employed in consumer applications such as pharmaceutical and food packaging applications.
Advanced compositions of COCs with higher purity are light in weight, break resistant, and with excellent barrier properties, lower particle level than glass, and glass-like transparency. These factors enable their usage in short-term as well as long-term pharmaceutical containers.
Popular applications of COCs include labels, shrink films, twist films, forming films, and bubble (or protective) packaging. Pharmaceutical blister packaging is one of the applications, wherein demand for COCs in the end-product is high.
Along with the major use of COCs in pharmaceutical containers, it is also applied in blister packs, syringes, and forming webs. Second only to PAN in terms of chemical resistance, adsorption rate, and low permeation and migration of medical-grade chemical contents; COCs offer good results in aforementioned applications. For instance, adsorption of nicotine by COCs is less than that of glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate (PETG) and Ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). Also, resistance of COC against methyl salicylate is higher than that of PETG, and is in the same levels as that of PAN. Yet another feature of the COC that enables its effective use in pharmaceutical applications is alcohol resistance. For instance, COCs are used in multilayered blends with polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate (PETG) in order to provide moisture barriers to blister packs.
For COCs to be employed in pharmaceutical packaging, an approval is required from the U.S. and the EU Pharmacopoeia. The major characteristics of COC that are considered while utilizing it include heat resistance, processing parameters, and cost. In terms of strength for containers, COCs generally offer exceptional breakage resistance as compared to glass. Furthermore, they weigh much less and they have greater design flexibility.
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Based on form, the cyclic olefin copolymers market for pharmaceutical packaging can be divided into pellets, resins, and others. Based on application, the market can be segmented into wraps, labels, films, protective packaging, syringes, vials, wearables, and others.
In terms of geography, the market can be segregated into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America is one of the key producers of COCs in the world, due to presence of several COC manufacturers in the region. Countries such as Germany, Russia, and the U.K. are among the major producers of COCs in Europe. Based on consumption, North America and Europe are the key markets. In terms of consumption, the market in Asia Pacific is anticipated to expand during the forecast period, although at a sluggish pace compared to North America and Europe.
Key players operating in the cyclic olefin copolymers market for pharmaceutical packaging include Entec Polymers, Topas Advanced Polymers Inc., SCHOTT North America Inc., IDEX Corporation, Zeon Corporation, Celanese Corporation, JSR Corporation, and Mitsui Chemicals Inc.