LARGO, FLA. (July 20, 3:30 p.m. ET) — Injection molder Kramski North America Inc. is helping two Clearwater, Fla., companies introduce lithium-ion batteries to two different but demanding markets: Orthopedic power tools and automotive engines.
The Largo, Fla.-based stamping and injection mold company has worked with startup companies Rx Energy LLC and Lithionics Battery LLC, since mid-2010 to develop and bring to market lithium ion products that can replace older nickel cadmium batteries, according to Steven Tartaglia, director of engineering for Rx Energy and Lithionics.
Tartaglia and Glenn Shaw, director of sales at Kramski, talked to Plastics News in a July 19 conference call.
They said Rx Energy and Lithionics have worked to develop the intellectual properties behind the new products and Kramski has supplied the manufacturing knowhow. Now they are bringing both products to the market.
Kramski recently purchased a Arburg 110-ton 420C Allrounder press to produce cases, covers and buttons for the new RxEnergy Never Die series sterilizable lithium battery packs for orthopedic power tools. Tartaglia said the tools are used for heart surgery, as well as knee and hip replacements.
He added that the batteries are ‘very sophisticated devices” and have to meet Food and Drug Administration requirements. They have been in clinical trials and were launched for sale on April 15. Tartaglia said they are being tried in U.S. and South American hospitals.
Kramski also is stamping the contact terminals in-house, assembling components, charging and testing and bar coding each finished assembly.
Besides the press, Kramski also added robotics, a conveyer system and other auxiliary equipment to make the batteries. It is using existing space in its facility.
Shaw added that Kramski has a climate-controlled environment and has all the necessary ISO certifications, including 13485 and 14001.
The company is working as a contract manufacturer for Lithionics Battery and has set up a complete assembly area to assemble, test and certify lithium ion batteries for a variety of uses including automotive engine starting, racing, electric vehicles, marine, golf carts and recreational vehicles. The companies worked to design a proprietary manufacturing process with custom automated equipment. Details are a closely guarded secret.
The engine-starting battery has been available since the start of 2011. It is in trials with some of the major automotive makers, according to Tartaglia.
Tartaglia said the lithium version, which weighs about 10 pounds and lasts five years, is replacing acid batteries that are about 60 pounds and last about three years.
“Lithium is being considered in the auto industry as they look for start, stop technology as a zero idle application. Lithium has three times higher energy and it charges four times more quickly,” he said.
Tartaglia said Kramski's parent company, Kramski GmbH of Pforzheim, Germany, will open automotive possibilities in Europe.