Medical molder MedPlast Inc. is adding extrusion blow molding capabilities and a Class 100,000 clean room for Class 8 medical devices at its headquarters plant in Tempe, Ariz. The move is in response to a growing interest by medical-device companies to work with contract manufacturers that can provide one-stop shopping.
A Battenfeld-Fischer VK1-1 dual-head extrusion molding machine, currently being installed and tested, will have the capacity to annually produce more than 5 million small to medium-sized plastic bottles made from polyethylene, polypropylene or PVC. It also will have 100 percent inline leak testing and vision inspection of bottles.
Extrusion blow molding will give MedPlast capacity to bring value-added offerings to our customers, so that they don't need to deal with separate companies for the container and the bottle, said John Rugari, vice president of business development, in an interview at the Medical Design and Manufacturing West show, held Feb. 8-10 in Anaheim.
What we're finding is that customers are more and more strapped for resources and are relying more and more on suppliers to manage programs for them, he said. Working with one supplier and one factory as opposed to two mitigates the risk if problems occur putting the two parts together.
The company's clean room is complete, and the machine will be running in the next two months, Rugari said. The line will make medical diagnostic products and devices primarily for the pharmaceutical market, he said.
David Mulera, vice president and general manager of MedPlastTempe and director of corporate engineering for MedPlast, said there are a number of medical manufacturers looking to consolidate their blow molding requirements with other work under one roof.
The old notion of a single capability molding or mold-building, for example is not enough to meet the demands of healthcare OEMs, he said.
MedPlast also has plants in West Berlin, N.J.; Monticello, Iowa; Elkhorn, Wis.; and Westfield, Pa.
About 80 percent of MedPlast's business is in medical, largely focusing on hand-held, single-use surgical instruments and diagnostic devices geared to its capabilities in rubber, plastic and silicone as well as overmolding, two-shot and thermoplastic molding.
The other 20 percent of its sales are in aerospace, defense and industrial specialty products.
We have invested more in our sales and marketing. We have certainly added more people, Rugari said.
We are seeing new projects in everything from dental to optical to surgical devices to wound management. We see a significant number of opportunities.
Rugari said the company has more business in the pipeline now than it has had at any time since the company was formed nearly three years ago. The life science segment, in particular, can offer MedPlast significant growth.
We see more and more innovation attached to surgical devices and a lot of it has to do with multishot and overmolding technology, Rugari said.
That gives MedPlast an opportunity to design new devices that use less material, reduce assembly time or improve manufacturing efficiency, he said.
Three years ago customers knew what they wanted and came to the table with a complete design because they had the resources, the manpower upfront, Rugari said.
Today they are not quite there. They need our help to design for efficiency ... with the least amount of complexity in order to reduce costs and time to market. We are expected to be an extension of the customer because they don't have all the resources they did three years ago.
MedPlast formed in 2008 when K&W Medical Specialties and the engineered rubber and plastics group of Applied Tech Products Corp. were bought and combined. The majority of the company's roughly $100 million in sales are in North America. Sales at the Tempe plant more than doubled in 2010, the company said. Combined, its five plants, all in the U.S., have more than 375,000 square feet of space, employ about 700 and operate more than 200 presses.