With its eye on Mexico as well as markets in the Southwest, Computer Designs Inc. is opening a plant in Tucson, Ariz., with a 5,100-square-foot clean room, an important element in thermoforming its blister packaging trays for the medical and pharmaceutical markets.
The 85,000-square-foot facility, which is scheduled to begin operating in April, will start with about 12 workers and increase to 35-45 when it reaches full production in two to three years, said Vice President Paul Treible in a phone interview Jan. 9. The company will invest $1.5 million in equipment and building improvements.
The company did not disclose the acquisition price of the plant, which was used by Moll Industries Inc. Moll moved its operations there from Costa Mesa, Calif., in May and then abruptly shuttered the plant two months later. The acquisition included the clean room and several chillers and dryers.
The plant will be Computer Designs' third and largest, complementing plants at its Whitehall, Pa., headquarters and in High Point, N.C. Treible said the Tucson plant could allow the company, which had $13.5 million in sales in 2006, to take on an additional $3 million in sales. The expansion is the company's second in three years.
``There is a large market to go after in the Southwest and in Mexico,'' said Treible. ``It is an area where we can grow a significant amount.'' He said shipping and logistics costs make plants in key geographic locations critical to reaching customers and keeping costs competitive.
Treible said he expects 60 percent of the plant's production will be blister packaging for instruments used by surgeons and health-care professionals, with the rest for the automotive, consumer and electronics markets.
``The medical market has had good growth and, with baby boomers getting older, will continue to have good growth, not just in the United States, but globally as well,'' Treible said. ``There are no indicators to tell us that the market is anything but a great growth market.''
Computer Designs has purchased a Moriseiki VS-8000 vertical machining center for its Pittsburgh plant that will allow workers to cut molds that range in size from 31-64 inches.
The company also is buying a heavy-gauge, high-speed Sencorp thermoforming machine with a closed-loop infrared scanning system for its North Carolina plant and will transfer a smaller thermoforming machine from there to Tucson.
Altogether, the company will have eight thermoforming lines when the Tucson plant is operational - four in Pennsylvania, three in North Carolina and one in Arizona. Treible said the plan is to buy a new, large thermoforming machine for the Tucson plant ``within a year.''
After the Tucson plant begins operations, the company will employ a total of more than 100, with 50 full-time workers in Pittsburgh, 25 in North Carolina and 12-15 temporary workers, most of them at the N.C. location.
Treible said the new machine for the North Carolina plant will allow Computer Designs to make 34-inch-wide sheets and products up to six inches in depth. He said the machine that will be used in the Tucson plant will be able to process sheets 19-32 inches wide and 6-34 inches long.