Today, Phillip Leopold and his son, Andy Leopold, own Medical Murray Inc. But years ago, Phillip dreamed of becoming a machinery mogul through a tiny injection press called the Sesame.
Leopold made a major career change in 1996, when he left as president of Bucher Inc., the U.S. unit of a German maker of thermoset molding machines, Fahr-Bucher GmbH. He founded Murray Inc.
We started doing development of medical devices, and we knew there was a need to make things smaller and smaller, and especially using injection molding as kind of an assembly technique to combine materials for catheters and products, he said.
Two years later, Fahr-Bucher closed down and sold its sales and service business to Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH. Meanwhile, Leopold thought his Sesame injection press would evolve into a full-time business.
Sesame was an appropriate name. You could mold several sesame-seed-sized parts out of one pellet of resin. Some parts use only 3-4 grams of material. The press has a linear servo-motor injection system, and two plungers one to charge the shot into a small injection cylinder and a second to inject plastic into the mold.
It started out with the machine, and we thought we'd sell machines everywhere. But people kept coming to us wanting parts, Leopold said. He ended up licensing production of the Sesame machine to Hull/Finmac Inc., and then to the current manufacturer, Lawton Machinery Group of De Pere, Wis.
Leopold changed his company's name to Medical Murray and moved to North Barrington, Ill., in 2005. His son worked at medical giant Guidant Corp. before joining his father.
In mid-2008, Medical Murray opened a plant in Lake Zurich that now employs 25. The entire manufacturing area is a Class 10,000 clean room.
Employees at Medical Murray's plant peer into microscopes to examine parts for medical devices used for microinvasive surgery and implanted drug-delivery parts.
The parts are molded on seven injection molding machines four Sesame Nano-Molder presses from Lawton and three all-electric Sumitomo micromolding presses, each with a clamping force of 7 tons. The smallest Nano machines have a half-ton of clamping force.
Medical Murray doesn't just mold the parts. Other capabilities include sonic and spin welding, adhesive and solvent bonding, heat staking and tip forming. A special machine can braid threadlike parts.
Gregg Vanicek, production supervisor, said the company is building a reputation for precision-molded, tiny medical parts. Vanicek, who came to Medical Murray from an automotive plastics supplier, still marvels at parts so small that a sneeze can scatter hours' worth of production. Leopold carries around dozens of samples in a small display case.
One netlike device used to treat congestive heart failure, secures a pouch of medicine to the area to be treated; another part is an implant to treat dry eyes.
We're also doing bioabsorbable [parts] that go in and later disappear, and mostly those have been some kind of attachment device or expanding thing that grips into the body and holds something in position, and then goes away after you are healed, Leopold said.
Medical Murray displayed its diminutive offerings at Medical Design & Manufacturing West, held Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, Calif.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.