The domestic operating unit of packaging machinery maker Multivac of Wolfertschwenden, Germany, installed more than 20 units in the United States last year.
``We probably have about 600 medical machines in the U.S.,'' said Joseph Martin, medical division general manager for the unit, Multivac Inc.
A roll-stock packaging system in operation at Multivac's Medical Device & Manufacturing West booth formed a flexible tray of ethyl vinyl alcohol film, applied a lid of spun-bonded polypropylene Tyvek and operated a thermal transfer printer. The R530 system handles high-volume packaging of syringes, catheters and other medical devices.
The division sells thermoforming fill and seal equipment to the medical industry for in-house plastics package processing in competition with providers of preformed and pre-cut packaging materials.
A prospect, for example, was inserting 70,000 medical devices per month into a high-impact polystyrene, semirigid tray with a Tyvek lid and ``thought it was hard to justify the expenditure of $300,000-$350,000'' for a machine, he said. Martin compared per-unit material costs of about $1 for a pre-cut tray and lid and 15 cents for in-house processing. He projected a six-month payback on the investment.
A machine for processing flexible material for a breathable pouch might cost $250,000. ``Our machine might make that for 3-7 cents'' per piece, vs. 25-30 cents for a pre-made pouch, Martin said.
In the early 1970s, parent firm Multivac Sepp Haggenmuller GmbH & Co. KG entered the U.S. market and, in 1987, formed the unit in Kansas City, Mo. The domestic operation employs 140 in sales, marketing, technical services, training, remanufacturing and administrative positions.