BALT EXTRUSION • The History and Major Technological Innovations of Balt Extrusion
Léopold Plowiecki, President of the Board of Trustees, Engineer from the Polytechnique school of Warsaw, Founder of the company in 1977.
Nicolas Plowiecki CEO, Engineer of Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers
Léopold Plowiecki, born in 1942, engineer from the Polytechnic School of Warsaw, founded BALT Extrusion in January 1977. At first, with the help of his brother Richard, he manufactured tubes, as a subcontractor for the medical industry: tubes for catheters used in anaesthesiology, cardiology, gastrology, etc.
In 1978, Professor Jean-Jacques Merlan, a pioneer in interventional radiology at Hôpital Lariboisiere in Paris, got in touch with Léopold Plowiecki for a very special request: he required thin and supple tubes to enable the delivery of detachable balloons in cerebral arteries. At the time Léopold Plowiecki was in the process of developing an extrusion technique to produce microcatheters with a unrivalled suppleness; he began to supply the Hôpital Lariboisiere directly. It was thanks to this technology that BALT Extrusion entered the world of interventional neuroradiology.
The encounter between Léopold Plowiecki and Professor Feodor Serbinenko of the Burdenko Institute in Moscow marked a second important step in the history of BALT: Pr. Serbinenko was the inventor of the latex detachable balloon (used in treatment of aneurysms at that time). He asked Léopold Plowiecki to develop a technology to enable mass-production of these balloons and the catheter systems necessary for their positionning. Léopold Plowiecki succeeded in producing them in 1980 and a long friendship bound the two men until Pr. Serbinenko’s death in 2001.
Fortified by its successes, BALT began to develop its own range of products for interventional radiology: catheters for angiography, micro guidewires, valve introducers, stop-cocks, connectors and miscellaneous accessories.
In 1982, BALT invented PURSIL®, an alloy of polymers which is extremely supple and resistant to pressure. This material enabled the production of ultra-supple thin tubes, presented on reels: the practitioner used to cut the necessary length and use a propulsion chamber made of glass to “inject” the tube into the patient’s arteries.
In 1987, thanks to the advice of Professors Luc Picard and Jacques Moret, this alloy was used to create an intracerebral flow-dependant microcatheter, significantly improving the treatment of the cerebral vascular diseases. The performance of this microcatheter was so amazing that it was immediately called “MAGIC” by the users; this name became its commercial brand name which is still in use today: the MAGIC1.2F is still the smallest existing catheter and the only one to be truely flow-dependant.
In order to confront an ever increasing international competition, BALT has chosen to concentrate its efforts on the development of new products and the investment in new technologies (micro mechanics, metallurgy and chemistry). This strategy has enabled BALT to stay on the leading edge of innovation for many years, maintaining its financial as well as its technical independence. The arrival in 2002 of Léopold Plowiecki’s son, Nicolas, as Chief Executive Officer at BALT, is in line with this policy.
Main BALT technical innovations:
1982 - PURSIL : Polymer alloy enabling the production of flow-dependant tubes.
1986 - CRISTAL BALLOON : Catheters for angioplasty and valvuloplasty. BALT is the only one to produce balloons with a diameter extending up to 40mm.
1987 - MAGIC : First flow-dependant catheter.
1993 - MDS : First mechanical detachment system for coils for the embolization of aneurysms.
1996 - HYDROSPEED : Hydrophilic treatment significantly improving the lubricity of catheters and microguidewires.
1997 - SORCERER : The creation of the smallest intracerebral micro guidewire in the world, the SORCERER.007” (Ø 0,18mm). The core of this guidewire uses a new material with shape memory: Nitinol, an alloy of Nickel and Titanium.
1998- VASCO : A multilayer braided catheter with a low-friction inner coating.
2000 - BOA : Balloon-expandable intracranial stent. The BOA is the first and only solid platinum stent in the world.
2002 - CORAIL : Balloon-tipped guiding catheter 6F or 8F.
2003 - LEO : The first self-expanding intracranial repositioning stent.
2005 - CATCH : The first efficient intracerebral thrombo-embolectomy system.
2005 - MDS Pression : MDS modification: the development of a hydrodynamic detachment system of MDS coils, the creation of the longest coils in the world.
2006 - SONIC : The first microcatheter with a Fusecath safety system enabling the detachment of its distal part.
2006 - STEEL : Range of guidewires with steel structure.
2008 - SILK : Flow diversion device for intracranial vessels.
2009 - FARGO : Creation of the « Distal access catheter concept», leading to the elaboration of the FARGO range. This line of “micro guiding catheters” was developed on the basis of the Vasco + microcatheters and now gather the “must” of the technologies proprietary to Balt: “intelligent “ continuous extrusion of tubes with progressive suppleness and braiding in nitinol. The FARGO range has become the reference in high performance guiding catheters.
2009 - HYBRID : Balt worked out a revolutionary technology allowing the welding end to end between nitinol and steel, well known impossible. This technological breakthrough has permit the creation of the HYBRID micro guidewire range, which associates the quality of these two materials and quickly stood out as the most efficient micro guidewire range of the market.
2011 - COPERNIC8x80RC : Development of the first « venous remodeling balloon» for the treatment of dural fistulas. The COPERNIC8X80RC is the principal tool of this new technique invented by Pr René Chapot.
2012 - LEO BABY : New intracranial micronized stent « LEO+ BABY » compatible with a 10 coiling microcatheter.
2012 - CATCH+ : New intracranial thrombectomy system, CATCH+. The « stentriever » technology is developed by Balt to implant specific tools for distal (CATCH MINI) and proximal use (CATCHMAXI).