Custom injection molder Plastikos Inc. is building a Class 10,000 clean room for medical molding inside its manufacturing plant in Erie, Pa., and plans to boost medical from 10 percent of its business to one-third of its revenues in the next three years.
We are dusting off our medical expansion plans that were put on the back burner because of the economy, said Philip Katen, president and general manager. We definitely would like to see 25 percent to one-third of our revenues be directly attributable to medical over the next three years or so.
Katen said the company was still working through the final design of the clean room and that it will be another couple of weeks before it pins down how large it will be or how much equipment will be in that space.
We are going to be enclosing an existing area on the production floor, he said.
Plastikos currently has 27 injection molding machines, ranging from 25-110 tons of clamping force. Katen said the company is purchasing a custom 88-ton Arburg Allrounder equipped with a clean-air module above the clamping unit that will be located adjacent to the clean room. Parts from that press will be transported along an enclosed conveyer into the clean room space, which is expected to be completed in December or early 2011.
The machine is completely enclosed. It seals off the molding area where the part is produced, Katen said. It reduces our initial capital investment because you don't have to enclose as much of the floor, and the clean room doesn't have to be large enough to accommodate the machine as well. We will locate the clean room in a spot so we can expand it in the future.
Inspection, packaging, labeling and assembly of the medical parts will be done in the clean room, he said.
This concept allows us to have a drastically reduced clean room space. The cost of the press and the clean room will be between $300,000 and $500,000, not counting any auxiliary equipment that might be needed, Katen said.
Plastikos plans to leverage the medical mold-building expertise of its sister company, Micro Mold Co. Inc., also located in Erie, about six miles away. The companies have common ownership, and its expertise centers on making molds and making extremely small, tight-tolerance components.
Philip Katen, Matthew Mead, Ryan Katen and Rob Cooney are the four owners of both companies.
Our experience in the medical-device industry goes back well over 25 years with Micro Mold building molds for a couple of customers since the early days of the company, said Philip Katen, who also is president of Micro Mold. We have good exposure and experience on the tooling end, as well as some production experience largely focused on Class 1 medical devices that don't require clean room manufacturing, he said. We want to leverage that to get a foothold on the production end.
We have seen increased interest and demand from our existing medical OEM customer base [for clean room production capabilities], said Dan Snyder, technical sales and marketing associate for Plastikos. We added multiple medical OEMs to our customer portfolio over the past two years. The addition of a Class 10,000 clean room will open up new opportunities at those and other medical-device companies.
For example, last fall, Plastikos picked up a sizable piece of medical business from a large medical original equipment manufacturer that was being done by another molder, Katen said. The project involves 36 tools and more than 100 parts. We began production on that in late 2009, early 2010.
He said Plastikos also has added a couple of other projects from other large medical-device OEMS one for tooling and another for a customer that supplies products to the dental industry. That is a design, build, run project that is expected to kick off at the end of June.
Initially, he said he expects the company to concentrate on projects related to its expertise in fluid-delivery systems and dental-component molding. Those two are our best fit initially, he said. We have three or four other projects that are getting close to kicking off.
Medical aligns with our core competencies of technical capabilities and tooling capabilities, said Katen. We wanted to diversify and get into an area with high growth opportunities for high-end, high-tolerance, highly engineered parts.
Plastikos currently makes custom molded parts for the medical, electronic, automotive, aerospace, defense and telecommunications industries.
The addition of a clean room space opens the door to a range of services the firm can provide to its customers centered around clean room molding, Katen said.
Everyone [at the two companies] is excited about this next step to broaden our capabilities and build on what we have accomplished the past 30 years, he said.
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