25 years of Ecoflac® plus
Recyclable, transparent and unbreakable - Ecoflac plus celebrates its 25th anniversary. The first (bag) bottle rolled off B. Braun’s plant a production line in Melsungen in 1997. At that time, it was one of the most innovative infusion solution containers in medical technology.
A Sophisticated System
Ecoflac® containers for infusion solutions are made from plastic granulate using what’s known as blow-fill-seal technology. The container is formed, filled and sealed in one continuous process. It all starts with small plastic beads patter into the extruder of the Bottelpack® machine. Then, a plastic tube is extruded and then the container is given its shape using air pressure. The finished infusion solution high purity, distilled, demineralised water and additives, depending on the solution, flows through a piping system into the filling tanks and from there into the Bottelpack® machine, where the Ecoflac® is filled, and the opening is sealed.
The filled containers are then transported to a capping machine via a conveyor belt to receive their caps. This is all done in a cleanroom environment, where the air is 99.995 percent particle-free. The special, unique container cap—known as a twin cap—has two contaminant-free, resealing puncture points. In the final production step, the containers leave the cleanroom and are palletized into sterilisation racks with the help of a robot. Once filled, the racks are put into the sterilizer in which top-down, hot-water sterilization occurs. The process is similar to boiling jam jars when making preserves. The process takes four hours, including drying and cool-down times. Another robot worker depalletizes the (bag) bottles from the rack and puts them onto a conveyor belt that transports the Ecoflac® plus bottles to the optical inspection.
A Long Story
This year we are celebrating 25 years of Ecoflac®, however, the container’s story began in 1930, when Sterofundin, an electrolyte solution, was first offered in glass ampoules. The first plastic container for infusion solution, the plastikinfusor came to the market in 1956. Few years later in 1973, B. Braun launched another innovation, the Plasco®. The Plasco® was an infusion bottle made of polyethylene, it was free-standing and had a sterile, resealing puncture zone. Around the same time in Switzerland, B. Braun developed the Ecoflac®. The Ecoflac® was an infusion container that emptied evenly during infusion and collapsed well but was not stable due to its rounded bottom.
The stability of an infusion bottle with the properties of an infusion bag
An interdisciplinary team of engineers and developers, marketing and sales specialists, and regulatory experts took up the challenge and, together with the University of Dresden in Germany, developed the first prototype, which were then put through their paces in numerous customer meetings and application tests and optimized until the new infusion solution container was ready: stable, fully collapsible, PVC-free, and, as the icing on the cake, the new Twincap – a cap with two sterile puncture sites that allows drugs to be administered into the running infusion. All these great features put the “plus” in Ecoflac® plus.
The Name Says It All
The name says it all: “eco” stands for ecological and “flac” comes from the French word flacon, for bottle. Ecoflac® plus is waste-reducing, recyclable and converts to C02 and H2O when incinerated. The container is transparent, lightweight and unbreakable. another advantage is that it works in the same way as an infusion bag when the air vent is closed, and collapses as the contents are used up. This creates a virtually closed system that protects the patient from contaminated of the infusion solution and safeguards the hospital staff from exposure to hazardous drugs. What started as a glass ampoule in 1930 still has the shape of a bottle today, but with the advantages of a bag.
After the response from the market was very positive the company took a major step: the construction of the largest and most modern factory for infusion solutions, the “Leading Infusion Factory Europe”, or LIFE for short, which began operations in Melsungen in 2004 and was officially opened in 2005 in the presence of the then German President Horst Köhler. This was the start of a worldwide victory march by the company: Other factories followed, and as a result Ecoflac® plus is now produced on three continents - in Germany in Melsungen and Glandorf, in Spain, in Switzerland, in Romania, Russia, Brazil, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Everyday millions of infusion solutions in Ecoflac® plus come off the production line at B. Braun Group worldwide.