Medical molding firm MRPC plans to unveil two new clean rooms this month as part of a $2 million investment at its Butler, Wis., manufacturing plant to bolster its liquid silicone injection and thermoplastic molding capabilities.
The expansion includes a new Class 100,000 clean room, spanning about 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, and a Class 10,000 clean room that will be between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, said Greg Riemer, MRPC vice president of sales and marketing. The company, formerly known as Molded Rubber and Plastic Corp., will add liquid injection and thermoplastic/thermoplastic elastomer molding equipment at its Butler plant to outfit the new space, he said.
The company also has plans to start the construction of a fifth clean room later this year, said MRPC Chief Executive Officer John W. Schlump.
Riemer and Schlump talked about the company's new clean rooms during an interview at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West show, held Jan. 29-31 in Anaheim.
The Class 10,000 clean room will include presses to make implantable plastic rigid components, made from polyetheretherketone, a thermoplastic with outstanding properties to be used as a biomaterial. PEEK molded parts will generally be small with tight tolerances for implantable applications, Riemer said.
When the projects are completed, MRPC will have three Class 100,000 clean rooms and one Class 10,000 room spanning about 50,000 square feet. The current spaces host silicone and organic, high-consistency rubber molding operations. The Butler site contains about 85,000 square feet of manufacturing space, Riemer said.
Plastic products make up about 30 percent of MRPC's business, with the bulk comprising rubber and silicone, he said. The company also does a lot of two-material processing like overmolding silicone onto plastics, especially high-temperature-resistant plastics that can withstand a second process.
The molder still makes some industrial-type products in Butler, and it's not giving up on them, but some are being eliminated due to attrition. The clean rooms are pushing some of them out, Riemer said.
MRPC, which employs about 100, likely will add more people, both on the operational and technical sides. Riemer said the company is looking to add two process engineers and two application/project engineers to its support team, particularly if some current prototyping work turns into production work.
Along with its expansions and potential new hires, during the next year or two MRPC will be looking to make acquisitions that would ``strategically fit'' the company, Schlump said. Most likely the focus would be on improving the rubber/silicone side. ``That's our sweet spot,'' he said.
Riemer said MRPC would like to find a related operation that would allow his firm to expand its capabilities, possibly in assembly. The company wants to ``move up the food chain'' and become as multi-service as possible, he said.
Schlump agreed, saying MRPC already has some value-added services - including material development and prototyping - but he'd like to see the company take a step in the direction of end product supply.
Whatever type of investments MRPC is making, the strategy has the support of the company's owners, he said, and they're a big part of what is happening, Schlump said.
``In the past 10-plus years, we've had quite a metamorphosis,'' he said. ``Back then we were in black rubber, and through tremendous investment, we've gotten to where we are now. We've taken on projects for several customers who have told us, `We couldn't find anyone else to do it for us.' That's exciting that we have that kind of capability and get those kinds of opportunities.''