CURRENT USE OF DISPOSABLES
BioPlan's 10th Annual Report indicates that adoption of single-use devices has continued to increase, and that some disposable
devices are now almost universally used at one stage of bioproduction (R&D through commercial production) (1). When compared
to adoption just seven years ago, the growth has been significant.
Topping the list in market adoption this year are disposable filter cartridges, now used by 98% of respondents to the latest
survey, up from a leading 93% last year, and 78% in 2006. The growth has been even more dramatic in other widespread devices:
- Tubing for disposable appli-cations (97% this year, up from 88% last year and 56% in 2006)
- Buffer containers (91% this year, up from 82% last year and 53% in 2006)
- Depth filters (90% this year, up from 84% last year and 57% in 2006).
Even some of the lesser-adopted systems are showing strong growth. For example, this year, membrane adsorbers, the devices
with the least amount of penetration, are still being used by 6 in 10 respondents (61%), up from 54% last year and just 13%
in 2006. For many of the devices tracked, there was a big jump in adoption between 2006 and 2007, with growth rates slower
since then; nevertheless, these trend figures show just how quickly the market for these devices has grown.
It is also worth noting that quantities for these products were not indicated in the survey question, only incidence of usage
at any stage. Thus, while market penetration and the number of purchasers for these products may be increasing substantially,
these data do not provide direct information on the volume of sales increases. Separately, though, vendors have reported double-digit
sales growth in materials and consumables for several years, most likely attributable to the increased adoption of single-use
disposables and the introduction of new products in this sector of the market.
WHY INCREASED USE OF DISPOSABLES?
While there have been dramatic changes in the adoption of disposable devices, some trends have remained remarkably steady
over the years. BioPlan identified a series of more than 25 reasons for increasing use of disposables and asked respondents
to indicate their single most crucial reason—fully 26.1% cited reduced capital investment in facility and equipment. This
has been the top reason going back at least as far as 2009, increasing from 14.4% of respondents that year. Clearly, this
has been one of the key benefits of single-use devices, and has become more important over time.
This year, "eliminate cleaning requirements," cited by 13.6% of respondents, was the second-most crucial reason for increasing
use of disposables, as it has also been since 2009. The percentage citing this factor has remained steady over the years.
In a tie for third place this year, each at 9.1% of respondents, were "faster campaign turnaround time" and "flexibility of
a 'modular' approach." The former retains its third position from 2010–2012, though has leveled off after rising growing steadily
from 6.9% of respondents in 2009 to 12.4% last year. The latter appears to have grown more important, after ranging from 4.2-6.3%
of respondents for the past four years.