ANAHEIM, Calif. — Raumedic AG is poised to make further inroads into the North American medical market now that it has a manufacturing presence in the region.
Its first plant in the U.S., located in Mills River, N.C., is prepared to provide even quicker service, lower shipping costs and better access to the customers in the region. The company invested $27 million in the 60,000-square-foot facility, which will serve as a production and developent center for customer-specific polymer components and systems, including a 13,000-square-foot ISO Class 7 clean room.
Employment has grown since it opened in 2016 and the firm projects to employ 60 at the facility by the end of 2017.
"Our strategic customer base wants to have access to us," Technical Sales Manager Jared Sunday said at the recent MDM West show in Anaheim. "The engineering people and management, they want to be able to see and feel the product and not have to fly all the way to Germany each time to do that. Communication is easier, you're relatively in the same time zone, you can do phone calls a lot quicker and it's easier to be anywhere in the country the next day."
The site produces medical and pharmaceutical grade tubing and tubing tests, molded components, and fully assembled devices. It includes multi-component injection molding with hard-hard and hard-soft connections, micro injection molding, insert molding, fully automated assembly systems, and micro extrusion with an internal diameter of 0.1 millimeters, among other processes, the firm said.
Mills River processes standard thermoplastics — TPEs and polyurethanes — along with silicone and other high performance plastics such as polytetrafluoroethylene and polyether ether ketone.
Prior to the Mills River facility, the company operated a sales and engineering office and logistics center in Leesburg, Va., which has been integrated into Mills River.
"We are reintroducing ourselves to the market. We always had sales and distribution here, but we're here now from a manufacturing standpoint," Sunday said. "We're looking to continue growth with those customers where we may have been limited in the past to a specific location in Germany."
The site was configured to offer OEMs a variety of services, from manufacturing to secondary operations.
"People are looking for single-sourced suppliers," Sunday said. "Instead of managing a wide supply base, they're looking for the ability to have all of that under one roof. They want the advantage of leveraging higher volumes while managing fewer people. It's fewer companies to audit and easier to control. They're consolidating their supply base.
"We feel this sets us apart. We do the injection molding, the extrusion, the assembly of both thermoplastics and silicones. It's multiple core competencies across multiple materials."
Raumedic's theme at MDM West was "think small," highlighting its micromolding capabilities. Sunday said there is a movement within the industry toward smaller components designed to make procedures less invasive, consolidate parts and provide quicker turnarounds.
But there are unique challenges to molding parts so small. Sunday said the key to overcoming those challenges is to establish a strong overall production system beyond the mold/press itself. That includes everything from material handling equipment upstream, drying off equipment, inspecting and what's used to inspect the equipment. He said Raumedic relies heavily on automated and vision inspection.
"You could have a week's worth of production on the table and if somebody sneezes it's gone," he said. "It certainly created a unique set of problems that you really have to have a unique ability to manage. It's more than just buying a new system. You have to commit yourself to realizing it's a whole new set of problems because just breathing wrong on a table could wipe away a whole week's worth of production."