Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp. is moving into plastics with the acquisition of extrusion lines and coating assets that will allow it to coat wire.
Executive Vice President Robert Myers said the purchases from Biogeneral Inc. in San Diego and a second, undisclosed company will allow the manufacturer of precision wire for medical products to become more vertically integrated and move into other plastic markets.
``We will continue to look for related opportunities that enable us to grow beyond wire,'' Myers said.
The clean room needed for the coatings operation already is completed and the two production lines are scheduled to begin operating in August in Fort Wayne, Ind., where the company is headquartered. The lines will be able to operate at high volumes, apply thin-wall coatings and coating jackets that are pinhole free, and also provide very high levels of contractility, he said.
``The acquisitions enable us to move into a market we had not previously been in. Our intent is to do all the coating in-house,'' Myers said in an interview at the Medical Design & Manufacturing East trade show in New York, where the acquisition was announced June 12. ``We decided to step up to that next level to enhance the quality of the operations.''
Fort Wayne previously subcontracted the coating of the 2.5 million miles of precision wire it makes annually, or customers bought the wire and had it coated by someone else.
``This adds to our vertical-integration capabilities,'' process engineer Robert Mitchell said. ``Customers can now get a more complete solution from us and turnaround times should be shorter.''
The lines will allow Fort Wayne Metals to coat wires, strands and cables with a variety of melt-processable fluoropolymer coatings including ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, fluorinated ethylene propylene and perfluoroalkoxy film.
Myers said the company also would be able to improve the quality of the wire coatings and reduce costs.
``We will be able to address and resolve customer issues quicker and improve quality, which will lead to cost reduction,'' he said. ``Having that capability will mean a significant lead-time reduction, and we will be able to control costs better.''
Fort Wayne Metals makes medical guide wires, lead wires for long-term implantable devices, pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators, and temporary pacing lead wires used in cardiac pacing and neurostimulation at its four plants in Fort Wayne and a plant in Castlebar, Ireland, that serves Europe.
The firm employs 400. Fort Wayne houses 370 employees and has 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space across the four plants in the city.