Plastics News reporter Steve Toloken and correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these items at the Medical Design and Manufacturing West exposition, held Jan. 18-20 in Anaheim, Calif. Injection business now named Red Hill
Kip Lachner plans to incorporate his injection molding business in Bellingham, Wash., under the name Red Hill Industries.
The molding operation shares a 6,000-square-foot plant with Weltec Inc., a mold maker Lachner acquired in 1995. Red Hill does rubber molding, and runs thermoplastic injection presses strictly for mold trials, Lachner said at the Anaheim show. The firm will not compete with its plastics processor customers, Lachner said.
Lachner began molding on a three-barrel, 150-ton Engel in October 1998. The barrels are for separately molding liquid silicone rubber, thermoplastic resin or organic rubber. He added two 200-ton presses from another machine maker in March, and recorded 1999 molding sales exceeding $600,000, largely for medical applications and rubber keypads. Combined, the molding and mold-making businesses did sales of about $2 million, he said.
By year's end, Lachner said, he expects to acquire one or two more presses.
Weltec, which focused on rubber injection molds, began producing more plastic injection molds during 1999. Formed in 1989, it had three employees and one customer when Lachner took over. Now Weltec employs 10 and has 25 mold customers.
Red Hill uses about 35 percent of Weltec's current mold output, while the remainder goes to outside customers.
Tek Packaging Group invests in clean room
Tek Packaging Group of Huntley, Ill., has invested nearly $500,000 to install a Class 10,000 clean room.
Medical parts and packages make up about one-half of Tek's sales; consumer and electronic packages, the remainder.
The clean room, in use since November, occupies 35,000 square feet of Tek's 100,000-square-foot plant in Huntley. It operates three high-speed Brown pressure formers. Tek may buy a fourth by year's end, said President Sam Mazzola.
Earlier, Tek operated a Class 100,000 clean room covering 45,000 square feet in another Huntley building that was sold.
Tek employs about 75 total at Huntley and a 54,000-square-foot plant in Stockton, Calif. Mazzola projects Tek sales will increase 15 percent for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 vs. fiscal 1999 results. Tek's 1999 thermoforming sales were about $20 million.
Since February 1997, Tek Packaging has reported as a Filtertek Inc. division within Esco Electronics Corp.
C. Brewer acquires 11 injection presses
C. Brewer Co. has added 11 new injection presses, including three all-electrics, boosting its total to 34.
The acquisitions, made during 1999, were all upgrades and replacements, said Chuck Brewer III, chief executive officer. The Anaheim, Calif., company targets precision molding for medical and high-technology applications.
The all-electric models are the firm's first. Midyear, it evaluated two all-electrics — an 81-ton Nissei and 95-ton JSW — vs. its state-of-the-art hydraulics. It bought those two presses and added a third electric, a 40-ton Nissei that became operational in November.
Brewer said he has become a believer in the electric technology. Eventually, electric molding machines will differentiate "an engineering house from a traditional molding operation," he said. There will be "a presumption that those using hydraulic machines are form-fit-function molders."
C. Brewer employs 200, and received ISO 9002 certification in December.
Interplex to purchase more all-electrics
Custom molder Interplex Plastics Inc. of Lexington, Ky., plans to replace two or three hydraulic injection presses this year with all-electric machines.
Senior Vice President Jonathan Isenstein said the all-electrics demonstrate efficiency, repeatability and power conservation.
"When I had 28 machines three years ago, my utility bill was actually higher than it is today," he said.
Interplex employs 85 and operates 36 presses, including six all-electric Milacron Roboshots with clamping forces of 55-165 tons.
Four of the Roboshots and a 30-ton Newbury vertical molding machine are in a Class 100,000 clean room that was installed in 1998. Interplex is exploring expansion options in the Lexington area, including relocating to an industrial research park indirectly linked with the University of Kentucky.
Molding medical components accounted for about 15 percent of $7.8 million in 1999 sales. Interplex Plastics, a unit of Interplex Industries Inc. of Flushing, N.Y., became ISO 9002-certified in September.
Italian molder makes one-piece IV system
Haemotronic SpA, an Italian injection molder and manufacturer of medical parts, has developed a polyolefin bag that puts an intravenous solution bag, administration tubing and needle in one set.
The firm is marketing the bag for emergency uses where time is critical for health-care workers. Since the bag, tubing and needle are preconnected, emergency personnel simply can insert the needle into the skin.
Haemotronic, which began manufacturing the product four months ago, is trying to interest health-care companies, said Romeo Giovanardi, vice president of business development.
The Mirandola, Italy, firm chose polyolefins because it could not use PVC to make the product in one piece, he said.
Putnam plant adds R&D extrusion lines
Custom extruder Putnam Plastics Corp. is nearing completion of a 15,000-square-foot expansion that will beef up research and tooling at its Dayville, Conn., headquarters.
Putnam is adding at least three extruders for research and development, to shorten lead times, as well as electric discharge machining units in its toolroom, said President Jim Dandenau. The expansion, which will be completed in the spring, will give Putnam 35,000 square feet at the plant, he said.
Dandenau declined to say how much the expansion cost, and he would not describe Putnam's manufacturing capabilities. The company specializes in low-volume, complex tubing, such as multilumen or multilayer tubing.
Dow polyolefin film aims to replace PVC
Dow Chemical Co. unveiled a polyolefin film that can be welded using radio frequency and can serve as a cost-effective alternative to PVC in some applications.
Covelle film is intended to be a drop-in replacement for PVC that can be processed and welded at the same speed, said Bart Bowser, global marketing manager for Dow's fabricated products business and research center in Midland, Mich.
The film seals "as good or better than PVC in a typical application," he said. The product is cost-competitive because it can be downgauged and is less dense than PVC, he said. It can be sterilized using ethylene oxide or gamma radiation.
But Covelle film cannot be autoclaved, meaning it cannot compete with PVC in some high-volume medical applications, such as blood bags, he said. It is being tested now in liquid-containment and inflatable devices, Bowser said.
The film's first commercial use should appear in the second quarter, in a product for collection and drainage of bodily fluids. Bowser did not identify the maker of the product, but said that firm is interested in alternatives to PVC because of health issues with vinyl.