The following briefs were gathered by reporter Steve Toloken at the Medical Design and Manufacturing East show, held May 25-27 in New York.
Mar Lee opening Mass. tech center
Leominster, Mass.-based Mar Lee Cos. is joining the ranks of molders looking to provide more design work. In September, the injection molder and mold maker will open a new technical center.
The 28,000-square-foot center will have three molding machines, including a 200-ton coinjection machine and a 200-ton press with microcellular-foam molding technology. The center will let the company focus on new technology and expand its design work, said General Manager Alfred Gravelle.
``This to us is the next step,'' he said. ``Someone comes in and says this is my product — I need help with product design, mold making and manufacturing. I need you folks to do it from start to finish.''
The center will let the company do things like develop a manufacturing cell with a molding machine and robotics and then move the entire cell to the customer's plant or Mar Lee's facility, said Robert Clinton, director of manufacturing.
The center will be located in a building that Mar Lee owns next to its Fitchburg, Mass., mold-making and injection molding plant. The firm is spending more than $1 million on the project, Clinton said.
The project should be finished by September, he said.
Pioneer launching seat, bottle business
Custom blow molder Pioneer Plastics Inc. in Greenville, N.H., is launching a proprietary products business, called Pioneer Scientific, with a line of bathtub therapy seats and medical urine bottles.
The company had made those products for other companies but decided it could do it better and cheaper, said Mark Greenberg, vice president of sales and marketing. ``These products are the quickest way to make inroads into existing markets,'' he said.
The firm is using new designs for its products, he said. The effort was launched at the Medical Design and Manufacturing East show.
Pioneer decided to start the business to lessen the cyclical impact of its custom work, he said. The company, which has 38 machines, will not be adding equipment to handle the work, he said.
The company has sales of about $5 million a year.
Solar cell maker Spire considers selling firm
Spire Corp., which makes a process to coat implantable medical plastics, is exploring selling all or part of the company.
The Bedford, Mass.-based firm also makes solar cells and compounds for semiconductor wafers. It has retained OEM Capital as its financial adviser to explore options including joint ventures, mergers or selling parts of the business.
``The variety of growth opportunities available in our three lines of business, coupled with our limited financial resources, has played an important role in our decision,'' Roger Little, chairman and president, said in an April 30 statement.
The company had sales of $14.1 million in 1998, and lost $3.8 million, compared with 1997 sales of $23 million and profit of $1.6 million. The company blamed a downturn in demand for solar products and lack of capital for expansion in other markets.
Pliant Plastics Corp. is opening a small clean room for assembly and decoration at its Muskegon, Mich., headquarters plant. The Class 10,000 clean room is needed to meet increasing customer requirements, and company officials say they want, eventually, to do clean room molding. ... Dow Chemical Co. has introduced a new thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer to the medical market. The XUS63153 resin is targeted at high-end film applications, like extended wear surgical gowns that need viral barriers but still must breathe to remain comfortable. The product also can be used in products from adhesive bandages to transdermal drug delivery patches, said Karen Winkler, medical market development leader for Dow.