Helix Medical LLC, once viewed largely as a liquid silicone rubber molder, has transformed its Gloucester, Mass., facility into a full-service contract medical manufacturing operation, thanks to more than $4 million in investments from its corporate parent.
Because of the financial strength of Freudenberg-NOK, we have been able to invest in new capital equipment, including all-electric presses and a new clean room, Ed Callahan, vice president and general manager of the Gloucester operations, said in an interview at Medical Design & Manufacturing East in New York.
Helix finished an 8,000-square-foot Class 8 clean room in the last 18 months and has tripled the number of its injection presses since acquiring the Gloucester operation, formerly Jenline Industries Inc., nearly five years ago.
The Helix Medical-Gloucester division makes products for the diagnostic, cardiac, respiratory and orthopedic markets.
The Gloucester facility has changed both physically and culturally since the acquisition, said Callahan.
The plant today boasts 13 injection molding machines, with clamping forces of 1-180 tons, including its first six all-electric presses, as well as robots on a number of machines.
We are doing things less manually intensive, Callahan said. The 35-person workforce in Gloucester is cross-trained to perform multiple tasks, with a focus on quick turnaround time and fast response.
We have quick-change systems on our molds and tooling technology that allows us to reduce the cost associated with short runs and prototype builds. We can also do LSR to thermoplastic over molding, said Callahan. We plan to achieve ISO 13485 compliance by the end of the year.
Since its acquisition, the Gloucester operation has been growing 17-20 percent year over year, noted Brian Matachun, product and marketing manager for the division, in an e-mail.
Our growth has remained strong because we are in market segments that tend to deal with an aging population, said Thomas Vassallo, president of Carpinteria, Calif.-based Helix Medical. We don't have a lot of products for elective surgeries.
In addition, the Gloucester division applies scientific injection methodology to its LSR process a technique mostly used in thermoplastic injection molding that typically produces higher yields, fewer defects and lower material consumption.
The technology saves money and provides process repeatability from machine-to-machine, part-to-part and set-up to set-up, Callahan said.
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