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Perfecseal Inc. is expanding its Carolina, Puerto Rico, thermoforming operation to supply growing demand for medical packaging in the territory and parts of South America.

The firm will lease a building next to its existing Carolina facility and move a thermoforming line there in spring from its Mankato, Minn., plant. It will add more thermoforming lines as the business grows, according to John Rotunda, president of Perfecseal Mankato.

Meanwhile, the Mankato plant will buy a thermoformer to replace the relocated line and will install another to boost Mankato's capacity.

Rotunda said the Puerto Rico operation processes glycol-modified PET, high density polyethylene, PVC and high-impact polystyrene into trays, lids pouches, lables and rollstock.

Perfecseal said in a news release that the expansion will allow Perfecseal Puerto Rico to offer a ``complete medical packaging product line.'' The Carolina operation, however, does not extrude its own sheet and has no plan to introduce extrusion during the expansion.

Rotunda and other officials would not disclose the cost of the expansion or the equipment suppliers.

The Carolina plant has about 20 thermoforming lines, all of them performing thin-guage work.

Perfecseal Mankato will continue to be responsible for product development and tooling for the Puerto Rican operations. Perfecseal claims its Mankato unit has state-of-the-art computer-aided design and manufacturing systems and computer numerically controlled systems.

Perfecseal is a relatively new division of Curwood Group, a subsidiary of Bemis Co. Inc. of Minneapolis. Bemis bought Perfecseal Inc., a private firm, last April and merged it with its Mankato Corp. subsidiary and the Oshkosh, Wis.-based Cur*Med medical business of Curwood Group.

Perfecseal is headquartered in Philadelphia. Alan McClure is its president and chief executive officer.

The company has plants in North America, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico and in the Asia-Pacific region. Its products include blown and cast films, laminated and coated films, custom semi-rigid packaging, coated paper and specialty products.

Officials did not disclose Perfecseal or Curwood sales.

Bemis, a $1.7 billion corporation, had 1995 film and sheet sales of $731.2 million, which made it the second-largest film and sheet manufacturer in North America, according to Plastics News' 1996 ranking of such companies.