Staff reporter Steve Toloken covered the following items at the Medical Design and Manufacturing West show, held Feb. 19-21 in Anaheim, Calif.
Insert molder Sun opens Mexico site
Sun Microstamping Inc., a metal-stamping and plastic insert molding firm in Clearwater, Fla., has opened a small injection molding plant in Mexico.
The operation in Matamoros, Mexico, started in early February with four injection presses with clamping forces of 85 and 125 tons, and could expand to 20 machines by the end of the year, said David Davis, vice president of sales and marketing. The presses are being transferred from Clearwater.
The plant primarily will serve the automotive market. It currently employs 12.
``Now that we have the lower-cost labor, we want to focus on getting more of the post-stamping, post-molding work,'' Davis said.
The company, which has more than $50 million a year in sales, does about 30 percent of its business from plastic. That company is expanding that percentage, Davis said.
Most of Sun's work is in automotive now, but the company is trying to expand in medical and telecommunications, he said.
UTI gains operations with buy of Venusa
Medical contract manufacturer UTI Corp. has acquired Venusa Ltd., beefing up its assembly operations and adding some plastics processing capability.
UTI, which first acquired medical molding capability in 2001 when it bought American Technical Molding Inc., bought El Paso, Texas-based Venusa mainly to expand its assembly operations, said William Gaffney, vice president of marketing and international sales at UTI.
Venusa has medical assembly plants in El Paso and in Ciudad Ju rez, Mexico.
But the deal includes some plastics processing assets: Venusa has two extrusion lines and insert molding capabilities, and it plans to add four injection presses at one of its Ciudad Ju rez facilities in the next six months, said Ross Magladry, vice president of sales and marketing at Venusa.
Venusa has a medical injection molding plant in Italy, but that operation was not part of the UTI deal, Magladry said. The compa-ny started in Italy before shifting its headquarters to El Paso, and the owner did not want to sell the Italian operation, which focuses on fluid-delivery, he said. By contrast, Venusa's U.S. operations are more focused on medical contract assembly.
Venusa employs about 850 in the United States and Mexico. Before the purchase, announced March 3, Collegeville, Pa.-based UTI had about 1200 employees and $150 million in annual sales. Terms were not disclosed.
MedSource acquires connector know-how
MedSource Technologies Inc. has bought a niche molding business from Midwest Plastic Components in a bid to strengthen its presence in the cardiac market.
MedSource, based in Minneapolis, bought expertise in molding polyurethane connectors for pacemakers, defibrillators and other electrophysiology devices from Midwest for an undisclosed sum. The purchase includes proprietary technology, several injection presses and the transfer of several Midwest employees, said Bill Ellerkamp, vice president of market development at MedSource.
The cardiac market is one of MedSource's targets, and the firm has other technology to make connectors, including metal part machining, Ellerkamp said. It did not have the molding expertise, he said, adding, ``Processing urethanes is a bit tricky.''
The purchase was completed in late 2002, but the companies did not disclose it until the medical show. MedSource is a public company but did not consider the investment to be material, requiring disclosure, he said.
MedSource will move the operation from Minneapolis-based Midwest to its plant in Brooklyn Park, Minn.
GW Plastics boosts clean-room capacity
Injection molder GW Plastics Inc. is expanding several facilities to beef up medical contract manufacturing, and may put a molding facility in Mexico.
The company said it plans to install a Class 100,000 clean room for molding at its Tucson, Ariz., plant in the first half of the year, adjacent to a clean-room assembly area, to create integrated contract manufacturing.
The firm also has put a clean-room assembly area in its Bethel, Vt., headquarters plant, to add to a clean-room molding operation there, and it has upgraded clean-room molding at its Royalton, Vt., plant, said Tim Reis, vice president of health-care markets. When the work is finished in the fall, the firm will have clean-room capacity for 40 injection presses.
Reis said contract manufacturing is probably 10 percent of its business now, and is likely to grow to 25 percent in a few years.
The firm also is eyeing a molding plant in Mexico, where it could add other capabilities later.
``The current thought process is something by the end of the year in Mexico,'' Reis said. ``It depends on what happens with the economy.''
Rolco Inc. to expand facility in Minnesota
Fueled in part by growth in its two-shot molding business, injection molder Rolco Inc. plans to double the size of its small plant by April.
The Kasota, Minn., company will be adding two two-shot machines and two traditional injection presses, giving it 32 machines, said Rod Tietz, sales and marketing manager. The larger plant will be 50,000 square feet.
The company, which has about $6.5 million in annual sales, is seeing more demand for two-shot molding from customers that want to use the more-expensive process either to save labor or to enhance the features of a product by, for example, adding a grip like a toothbrush, he said.
``I call it the soft-touch revolution,'' he said. ``Many design engineers are grasping hold of the technology and adding it in other areas.''
The additional space includes warehouse and office areas. The company employs about 70.
Rexam upgrading pouch-making site
Rexam Medical Packaging is spending about $1.5 million to beef up capacity and turn its pouch-making facility in Mundelein, Ill., into a sterile manufacturing environment.
The company has added two pouch-making machines, and is closing down three or four older lines, moves that will increase overall capacity of the plant by 25 percent, said Mike Oberkirch, marketing director for pouches.
About $1 million of the investment covers the cost of the machines, and about $500,000 will turn the Mundelein operation into a white room. The investment is driven by customer demands for cleaner medical packaging, Oberkirch said.
The company also introduced a pealable pouch that uses a sealing system to reduce the microscopic contaminants released when packaging is opened in a sterile environment.
Fluortek to launch tube plant in Ireland
Fluortek Inc. plans to open a small tubing facility in Ireland in the spring, its first plant outside the United States.
Easton, Pa.-based Fluortek plans to have one or two extrusion lines making fluoropolymer tubing, said Joseph Pignotti, sales manager. The facility, in a leased building, will be in Galway, he said. It will employ 10-15 people.
``It will be primarily for contract manufacturing,'' he said. The company employs 65 in the United States.
* Injection molder Tech Group Inc. plans to double its number of two-shot molding machines to six, to meet demand for ergonomic and aesthetic products in the medical industry. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based firm said the three presses will be added in Phoenix and Tempe. ... Medical contract manufacturer and molder Avail Medical Products in Fort Worth, Texas, has developed an online system to speed design and development of products. ... Rehau Inc. in Leesburg, Va., is bringing its medical tubing into the United States. Previously, the company's German parent primarily sold the tubing in Europe. ... Advanced Polymers Inc. in Salem, N.H., is offering new polyurethane balloons that can be inflated to twice normal size and have burst pressures of 0.5-10 atmospheres. ... Solvay Advanced Polymers LLC in Alpharetta, Ga., introduced a polysulfone resin with improved clarity. ... Zeonex Chemicals LP in Louisville, Ky., introduced a new grade of its 690R polymer for medical syringes.