President and CEO Tom Ryder says Genesis Plastics Welding will have radio-frequency welding equipment for the new clean room at its Fortville, Ind., plant in place in a month or two, and that it also has broken ground on a $2.5 million expansion to double capacity of its operations there by early 2012.
“We had the groundbreaking for the expansion this week,” Ryder said at the Medical Design and Manufacturing East show, held June 7-9 in New York.
The 50,000-square-foot expansion is nearly twice as large as the firm's 26,000-square-foot plant in Fortville, near Indianapolis. However, the company also is closing two off-site facilities that combined equal about 11,000 square feet, and assimilating those operations into the expanded Fortville plant.
“We will become more efficient and have better material flow,” because one of the off-site facilities is used for storage and inventory, Ryder said. The other does die-cutting.
The expansion will be finished by January, the off-site operations moved in February and March, and the entire operation fully functional and under one roof in April, he said.
Genesis already has in storage several manufacturing systems, valued at roughly $500,000, that it will use in the expanded area.
“The expansion will double our capacity,” Ryder said. “It is designed so that we can better serve the health-care/medical and military markets.”
The $500,000 expansion of the Class 7 clean room, to 2,000 square feet, was completed last month. It provides more heat-sealing equipment and allows the firm to shift RF welding of medical supplies and devices into a clean room environment. The clean room is the cornerstone of the firm's strategy to differentiate itself in the sector, he said.
“It will give us a lot more product opportunities in medical devices,” which today account for 60-65 percent of sales, Ryder said.
“We are experiencing high demand for clean room abilities from some of our major customers,” Ryder said. “When we do the RF welding in a clean room environment, we will be able to manufacture medical devices classified in higher medical-device categories.”
Sales at the privately owned company have grown 50 percent over the last five years, Ryder said. “I would like to see it grow at least another 50-100 percent over the next five years,” he said.
The company also plans to nearly double its workforce of 65 over that time frame. “Over the next five years, we should add another 40-60 employees,” he said.
Genesis currently welds items such as surgical instrument covers, medical-device inflatable components, oxygen hoods, compression therapy and deep-vein-thrombosis or DVT sleeves, and drainage bags.
At MD&M East, Genesis also announced a materials partnership with Teknor Apex Co. of Pawtucket, R.I., to make halogen- and phthalate-free fluid-drainage and storage bags using Teknor's Medalist elastomers and Genesis' RF welding technology.
That materials partnership is similar to an earlier one with Dow Chemical Co.; and to a collaboration Genesis reached in October with Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne Corp. that allows Genesis to weld GLS Versaplex thermoplastic elastomers into any two-dimensional shape or configuration, using mandrels.
RF welding the materials “opens the door to lower manufacturing costs, the elimination of heat-seal additives and the possibility of reducing material costs,” Ryder said.
“It also yields dependable, clean-looking seals — even in intricately shaped patterns.
“Hospitals and OEMs are looking for material options that offer potentially less use of petroleum, more visibility for single-use products for patients and options that reduce risks,” he said.
Likely areas for RF welding and alternative materials include DVT sleeves, blood-pressure cuffs; and IV, blood-collection and colostomy bags. In addition to RF welding of polar and non-polar thermoplastics, Genesis also does impulse and sonic welding, using its ecoGenesis proprietary technology.
“Our forte is RF welding,” Ryder said. “That allows us to weld material over other plastics” — such as polyethylene, polypropylene and other low-loss polymers — in film, foam and fabric layers.
One advantage for the market includes letting customers replace PVC and polyurethane with phthalate-free plastics, he said.
“It allows companies to introduce materials that they couldn't introduce before,” Ryder said.