ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Rexam Medical Packaging expects in April to begin operating a new five-layer coextrusion line in Illinois, and also plans this year to build a converting plant in Mexico.
The line will step up production of the company's three-layer lamination alternative to heat-seal coated materials in radiation- sterilized packaging, and will provide the company with the ability to make more-complex films.
Two medical device manufacturers have qualified the new peelable laminations, known as Integra Peel LFM, for ``packaging new product introductions due out later this year,'' said Jeremy Harvey, business director.
The laminations create barrier properties and incorporate film, foil or paper materials in preformed pouches or rollstock. Rexam exhibited the product, which consists of two layers of a polyethylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol mix and a peelable bottom film, at Medical Device & Manufacturing West in Anaheim.
The new coextrusion equipment will form the 16th and most sophisticated line at Rexam's plant in Mundelein, Ill., said Jerry Bennish, business director. Validation tests are under way.
Elsewhere, 10 extrusion lines operate at a Lakeville, Minn., plant and three at a Winterbourne, England, facility.
In an unrelated move, Rexam Medical Packaging also is planning to build a converting plant in Mexico, either on its own or in a joint venture with an undisclosed partner, said Michael A. Wollberg, director of sales and marketing for Latin America.
The plant is expected to serve the local market and be up and running in the second half of the year, he said. If the plant is a joint venture, Rexam would be majority owner, unlike its Brazilian joint venture in SÃo Paulo with ITAP SA, where the partners each own half, he said.
The Brazilian plant also may expand into extrusion in a few years, Wollberg said. It is unlikely the Mexican plant will extrude film in the foreseeable future because the North American Free Trade Agreement removes barriers for moving the products between the countries, he said.
Cost and size of the planned Mexican plant was not disclosed, but Wollberg said: ``It's a platform to grow from, more significantly than the investment.''
Also, Rexam announced the availability of an electronic press, analytical laboratory and field technical services to support health-care packaging requirements. Rexam Medical Packaging of Vernon Hills, Ill., employs about 1,600 and recorded 1996 sales of more than $350 million, about 10 percent of the total for parent Rexam plc of London.
Staff reporter Steve Toloken also contributed to this story.