Thermoplastic injection molder GW Plastics Inc. is expanding into the liquid silicone rubber market.
``Our focus will be in our two primary markets - health care and precision automotive, with our initial concentration in the health-care area,'' Brenan Riehl, president and chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 29 interview at Medical Design & Manufacturing West in Anaheim. The show was held Jan. 29-31.
The Bethel, Va., company is creating a new business unit, GW Silicones, at its Royalton, Vt., tooling and technology campus and expects the unit to be in operation in April with three Engel molding machines with clamping forces ranging from 35-120 tons.
``We are just beginning the construction of a brand-new $1 million clean room'' for these machines, Riehl said. ``Initially, it will be a small expansion, but we have high expectations for growth and over time, [and] plan to transfer the technology to our other operations in the U.S. and globally.''
GW Plastics has six manufacturing plants and 140 molding machines, including plants in Queretaro, Mexico, and Dongguan, China. The company reported 2007 sales of $80.3 million.
Medical devices, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, drug delivery devices and intravenous fluid handling systems such as respiratory assistance and catheterization products are expected to be among the initial applications for LSR and thermoplastic combinations, said Tim Reis, vice president, health-care business development.
In addition, there is a demand for LSR-thermoplastic products where there is a need to contain fluids, Reis said.
``The intravenous market will offer a sizable opportunity,'' he said. ``In pharmaceuticals, seals and components that regulate air flow'' are possibilities.
Almost two-thirds of GW Plastics' sales come from health care, with the rest in safety-critical automotive applications.
``This expansion in LSR allows us to bring materials into applications in ways that have not been done before,'' Riehl said. ``Quite a few customers approached us about this. That was a real motivator. Our ability to add LSR to enhance our molding capabilities gives us a unique combination of processing capabilities all under one roof'' that we can extend globally.
In addition to conventionally molded LSR products, GW said it plans to offer LSR overmolding onto plastics and metals and multimaterial molding.