Pharmaceutical and medical delivery company Hospira Inc. needed a new way to package highly controlled drugs in a hospital setting that would be tamper resistant, yet easy for medical staff to use, while still meeting a strict manufacturing budget.
The traditional way of making and assembling the syringe package was not working when Robert Oshgan, senior tooling engineer, suggested Hospira try something new: multishot molding and in-mold assembly.
There were a lot of skeptics about it, he said. It was something very unorthodox for us.
The company had problems with a part that used two-shot molding in the past, and the idea of trying something new - along with the upfront cost of tooling for a multishot part did not help Oshgan's case. But gradually he won over the firm, gaining support from design engineer John Domkowski.
The final product, the iSecure syringe, represents a breakthrough for Hospira: It uses multishot molding and in-mold assembly for a final part with four different pieces and three materials. For the company, it has become a perfect blending of design, function, engineering and teamwork with key molding and mold-making partners.
It's probably once in a million that you get a team that works this well together all the way through a project, Oshgan said in a June 24 interview at NPE2009 in Chicago.
The iSecure Syringe, designed in-house by Hospira, won the 11th Industrial Designers Society of America/Plastics News Design Award, as well as the Medical Award, in the Society of the Plastics Industry's 2009 International Plastics Design Competition. (The competition represents a continuation of the annual product design contest previously staged by SPI's Alliance of Plastics Processors and, before that, its Structural Plastics Division.)
MGS Manufacturing Group molds the syringe through its All West Plastics Inc. unit in Antioch, Ill. KTW Group of Waidhofen, Austria, is the mold maker.
The manufacturing process is completely amazing, getting four parts from one mold with all the related cost-saving implications, said design judge Ryan Ramos, a lead industrial designer with GE Healthcare.
The design is simple and straightforward at first glance - with the different parts labeled in the mold to designate the first, second and third steps for the nurse administering the drug. But those parts are integrated into a complex manufacturing piece in a clean room environment, and that was impressive, said judge Stephen Melamed, a principal with Tres Design Group of Chicago.
Hospira, based in Lake Forest, Ill., interviewed six toolmakers and four molders before settling on the iSecure team. MGS Manufacturing used its auxiliary injection equipment to turn a standard injection molding press at All West into a multishot machine, and created the in-mold assembly cell to turn out four complete syringes every 9.8 seconds, said Bob Bordignon, business development director for Germantown, Wis.-based MGS.
Beyond the design and manufacturing breakthroughs, the syringe comes to the hospital as a completely sealed, tamper-proof package, eliminating work for the medical staff and waste in the hospital, according to Oshgan.
The success of the iSecure has Hospira looking at other opportunities for multishot technology.
It was a risk, but I think we've also had some rewards, Oshgan said.
Three resin suppliers provided the materials used in the syringe: Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical Co. (copolyester); Winona, Minn.- based RTP Co. (polypropylene); and Flint Hills Resources LLC of Wichita, Kan. (low density polyethylene).
The IDSA design judges also praised Knoll Inc.'s Generation work chair for its clever use of materials in a comfortable but stylish office chair, General Motors Corp.'s Hummer storage boxes for their superb fit and finish, and Durham Boat Co.'s carbon-fiber oar which also won the recreation and leisure category.
In other awards, SPI judges gave the contest's top honor the Innovations in Plastics Award to Inergy Automotive Systems' development of a twin-sheet blow molded automotive fuel-tank system, which integrates key parts like sensors and the fuel pump inside the tank by molding around those components. The tank, used on BMW 7 series of sedans, eliminates the need to cut into the tanks to insert those parts, which can damage the multilayer tank's evaporative emissions system. The product, which took seven years to develop, also took top place in November, in the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division's Innovation Awards.
LyondellBasell Industries AF SCA of Rotterdam, Netherlands, supplies the high density PE for the tank.
The People's Choice Award, with voting both online and at NPE, went to Excelec y Cia Ltda. of Medellin, Colombia, for its prepaid energy meter, which is injection molded using post-consumer recycled PET. The meter allows the poor in Colombia to purchase energy in small amounts by prepaying and entering a code on the meter. Prepaid energy meters are a cultural development in Colombia because it allows the poor or those living in isolated areas to have energy when needed, even if they can't afford a 24-hour supply.
It was the first time SPI had opened voting for this award to viewers online, and the winning entry garnered about 3,570 votes out of 10,000-plus votes cast.
Weimo International Co. of Taipei, Taiwan, molds the meter, designed by the Plastic and Rubber Training and Research Institute at Eafit University in Medellin. Enka de Colombia SA of Medellin is the material supplier.
The Single Part Award went to the QDesk school desk rotomolded by Industrias Q'Productos CA of Santa Cruz, Venezuela, and designed by Investigacón y Desarrollo CA of Los Puertos de Altagracia, Venezuela. In many areas of the third world, a student desk is an old chair and table combination using nails or bolts that do not meet ergonomic requirements. The one piece chair is made of PE, supplied by Poliolefinas Internacionales CA, and uses a mold from Lakeland Mold Co. of Brainerd, Minn.
The Kor One water bottle, which uses Eastman's Tritan copolyester, won the Sustainable Consumer Product Award. The multiuse bottle, molded by Nypro Inc. of Clinton, Mass., is intended to replace single-use water bottles.
Individual category winners were:
Furniture: Herman Miller Inc.'s Embody chair uses acetyl from BASF AG in a highly recyclable work chair featuring an ergonomic pixilated back, which is molded to provide both strength and flexibility for long-term comfort in an office setting. Cascade Engineering Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., and ITW Dahti of Rockford, Mich., are molders of the seat for Zeeland, Mich.-based Herman Miller.
Lawn & Garden/Agriculture: A one-piece agricultural seed-dispensing tube injection molded by Steinwall Inc. of Coon Rapids, Minn., for Deere & Co. In a prior, clamshell design, the parting lines interfered with seed placement. Contour Mold Inc. of Elk River, Minn., was the mold maker. Omni Plastics LLC of Evansville, Ind., supplied the polycarbonate.
Industrial/Military: FPM Tooling & Automation of Fremont, Ohio, designed and made the mold for the Water Brick, a recyclable HDPE container that holds about 3.4 gallons of water for daily use and also is a bulk water-storage solution for humanitarian relief agencies. Targun Plastics Co. of Northbrook, Ill., is the material supplier and ACM Plastic Products Inc. of Sturgis, Mich., is the molder. The Water Brick container also won the Sustainable Part/Component Award.
Retail: Target Corp. moved away from the retail industry's tradition of buying shopping carts from outside suppliers and designed its own, using HDPE, PC, glass-filled nylon and PC/ABS. Bemis Manufacturing Co. of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., uses injection and coinjection molding and gas-assist injection to make the carts.
Packaging & Materials Handling: Industrial engineer Sergio Sosa and his group, Sosa Tech Advisors LLC of McAllen, Texas, were asked by Fomento EconÃ³mico Mexicano SAB de CV to create a pallet that could withstand the impact from forklifts and be produced in Mexico for less money. The pallet molded by Plasticos Técnicos Mexicano SA de CV of San Juan del Rio, Mexico, uses both a process called inside injection foaming injecting foam into certain areas and conventional injection molding of polypropylene.
Judges' Award: The Hot Solutions food-service tray allows food servers to handle hot, cast-iron plates in restaurants that typically serve items like fajitas and other sizzling foods. Plastic Craft Inc. of Minneapolis molds the tray using material from Bulk Molding Compounds Inc. of West Chicago, Ill. Eagle Precision Tool LLC of Shakopee, Minn., is the toolmaker, and Keith Nybakke of Nuhill Technologies Inc. in Minneapolis designed the tray.