ICU Medical Inc. of San Clemente, Calif., recently opened a full-scale, in-house injection molding operation, buying 15 new Engel presses to manufacture its proprietary needleless and protected-needle products. The 80,000-square-foot facility houses a total of 23 Engel injection molding machines, with clamping forces of 55-100 tons, in a Class 100,000 clean room, according to Kevin Hanly, director of molding operations. ICU had eight presses, including six dedicated to liquid injection molding of silicone, an area in which the company specializes.
LIM is a process in which liquid resin, along with a catalyst, is injected intomold cavities. The mold then is heated and the liquid cures to a solid.
``It can be a tricky process,'' he said, ``but it's one that we believe we've found our niche in.''
Currently five liquid injection molding machines are available for custom work.
He said the firm pulled all 49 of its molds from custom molders to gain better control of the molding processes and quality.
Processing problems with its LIM parts forced ICU to back-order some of its products. Within six weeks, however, the problems were solved, and the company said it is meeting its deliveries.
Hanly said ICU wants to offer its technical expertise to other original equipment manufacturers on a custom basis for both LIM and injection molded components.
ICU was founded 10 years ago by Dr. George Lopez, an internist who had a patient die as a result of a needle slipping out of a Y-site connector.
The tragedy led Lopez to develop and patent a protected needle with a locking device to hold it in place.
Although the company has production molds built on the outside, ICU has in-house tool design and engineering capabilities, and a mold shop staffed with four mold makers for mold repair and maintenance. It also has an assembly and packaging operation.
The firm employs 225.