Micro Star Innovations continues to ramp up its capabilities to supply the medical market.
The Largo, Fla.-based plastics processor's medical business is trying to catch up with its automotive segment, which accounted for 75 percent of sales in 2007 and 90 percent in 2006.
Micro Stamping Corp. of Somerset, N.J., launched the Micro Star division in early 2005, with initial investments of about $4 million in equipment and infrastructure. The aim was to establish a technical capability to provide plastic components and plastic overmolding of metals, initially for automotive customers that were consolidating their vendor bases.
``We started with automotive in mind initially. We did not want to attack two markets at once,'' said Jim McClintock, Micro Stamping president and chief operating officer, by telephone.
``We ship a fair amount to foreign automotive companies'' across North America, he said.
But the parent firm also supplies ``many of the largest, fastest-growing [original equipment manufacturers] in the medical market,'' said principal and marketing director Al Carolonza.
The 15,000-square-foot Largo site employs 30, and operates 14 all-electric Nissei injection molding presses, including horizontal machines of 55-120 tons, rotary vertical presses of 60-110 tons and vertical machines configured for reel-to-reel insert molding.
As needed, Micro Star uses a portable Class 100,000 clean-room hood for overmolding components related to surgical and blood-filtering devices.
The division can assist customers ``with new product development, mold and die design that includes ... developing automated approaches to provide cost savings, while keeping the supply chain domestic,'' said Phil Johnson, Micro Star's director of operations and engineering.
Automation is critical and extends into the quality control and engineering laboratories. In Largo, the division has integrated reel-to-reel molding lines with two separate stamping operations, robot-loaded inserts, robot part removal, RJG technology, vision inspection and integrated testing, virtually eliminating human error, Carolonza said.
Micro Star's plant has in-house mold repair capability but outsources its mold making, since the Largo region is ``rich with mold makers'' and related infrastructure, two reasons for locating there, McClintock said.
``We have the option to expand significantly in our current location,'' Carolonza said. Employment ``has increased slightly, but not significantly, in the past two years, due to our ability to ramp production without adding proportional labor.''
Officials would not disclose Micro Star sales, but McClintock said they more than doubled in 2007 from the year before. ``We expect [sales] to go up another 50 percent this year,'' he added.