Plastics News West Coast correspondent Roger Renstrom gathered these news stories at Biomedevice 2011 in San Jose, Calif. The exposition and conference ran Dec. 6-7.
PTA Plastics adding Toshiba 240-tonner
Injection molder PTA Corp., which does business as PTA Plastics, made financial gains this year beyond recovery, according to operations Vice President Rich Dorans.
“We are back to where we were in 2008, and now we are exceeding those sales,” Dorans said.
PTA is finding success in its core medical and defense markets and has ordered a 240-ton Toshiba, which is slated to begin operating sometime in January at the firm's Longmont, Colo., plant, he said.
The Longmont plant added two 85-ton Toshibas in 2011, one in March, the other in July.
PTA's 13 presses in Longmont, and 10 more at its plant in Oxford, Conn., range in clamping force from 45-1,370 tons.
Dorans said PTA employs a total of 165, including 10 persons hired since mid-2010.
China work returns, lands at Distinctive
Injection molder Distinctive Plastics Inc. of Vista, Calif., has received another influx of work from Asia.
“A customer is bringing 33 molds from China during December,” said President Timothy Curnutt. “They are on a ship now. The same customer brought back six molds in early 2011.”
Curnutt noted the customer went to China for services about five years ago but has encountered problems with tariffs, wages and mold maintenance.
Distinctive added a 66-ton single-shot Arburg Allrounder in October, bringing its total to 24 presses. That includes four Allrounders and five Arburg two-shot machines.
In June, the company acquired two Branson Ultrasonics welders and a large Printex pad-printing machine.
Merrill's Packaging gets Costa Rica site
Merrill's Packaging Inc. has established a plant in Costa Rica to meet the requirements of major medical-device customers.
The company also is contemplating adding a second U.S. site, in the Midwest or Northeast, in 2012.
Merrill's Packaging srl, in Alajuela, Costa Rica, is a 10,000-square-foot facility that includes a 3,000-square-foot Class 100,000 clean room. The plant, located in the free-trade-zone Zona Franca Coyol business park, opened in July 2011. The clean room became ISO 9001:2008 certified in November.
Sales for Merrill's headquarters site in Burlingame, Calif., were on track to grow 20 percent in 2011 vs. the year before, according to sales contact Brian Meltzner. He did not disclose sales figures. The medical market accounts for more than 80 percent of product volume at the California plant — mainly thermoformed packaging.
In 2007, Merrill's began a diversification program that included injection stretch blow molding. That equipment, most of it from Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd., blow molds PET wine bottles with barrier additives and accounts for more than 5 percent of Merrill's business.
Tech Group boosts clean room space
Tech Group Inc. is installing an expandable clean room for medical-device assembly and adding liquid silicone rubber molding capability at its Phoenix facility.
The Class 100,000 clean room will begin operating in February in an initial 3,500 square feet, with the potential to grow to a total of 6,000 square feet, said Tom Podesta, vice president of health-care sales and marketing. The facility already has a 15,000-square-foot Class 100,000 clean room for injection molding.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Tech Group moved warehousing from the Phoenix plant to nearby leased space, and revamped the vacated area for the new clean room. The plant will get its first LSR cell in the first quarter of 2012. That cell, which includes a 110-ton injection molding machine, is being transferred from its current location in the Williamsport, Pa., consumer products plant of West Pharmaceutical Services Inc.
In 2005, Lionville, Pa.-based West acquired Tech Group, which is now part of West's pharmaceutical delivery systems segment.
Pacific Plastics adds medical clean room
Pacific Plastics & Engineering added another clean room that will accommodate a high-end electric injection press, which the firm plans to purchase.
The medical-device contract manufacturer began using the 1,500-square-foot Class 10,000 clean room in December at its facility in Soquel, Calif. In combination with its two other Class 10,000 clean rooms, Pacific Plastics now has 4,600 square feet meeting the class's criteria.
Pacific Plastics operates 20 injection molding machines of 28-230 tons, with medical work accounting for about 80 percent of its business.
Diversified manufacturer Cretex Cos. Inc. of Elk River, Minn., acquired Pacific Plastics from founders Jack and Stephanie Harkness in May.
Venta Medical JV targeting startups
Startup businesses provide California injection molder and mold maker Delta Pacific Products Inc. and its joint venture, Venta Medical LLC, with about 40 percent of their sales.
Venta Medical, a custom contract manufacturer of medical devices, is a joint venture of Union City-based Delta and medical-device OEM Venture Manufacturing Group Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.
The venture, announced in November 2010, was formed within Delta's Union City plant to provide turnkey services to early-stage entrepreneurial medical and life-sciences companies developing devices.
By early 2011, about 1,500 square feet of Delta's 32,000-square-foot facility was remodeled as a Class 10,000 clean room. Delta acquired three Battenfeld presses — two 60-ton models and one 80-ton unit—and took two 75-ton presses out of service.
Delta President Fred Betke said that as startups progress beyond incubator status, some continue to use certain services of Delta and Venta Medical, and, largely through word of mouth, other startup businesses emerge and take their places.
T.O. Plastics buys PTi sheet extruder
Thermoformer T.O. Plastics Inc. has added an extruder at its Clearwater, Minn., plant for in-line work.
The machine, from Processing Technologies International LLC of Aurora, Ill., can extrude roll stock at a rate of 4,000 pounds per hour, said Mark Schlichtmann, director of custom sales and customer service.
The new extruder became operational in June.
The company has six extruders and a number of thermoforming lines in Clearwater concentrating on horticultural, industrial and automotive work. Proprietary horticultural products account for about 40 percent of the firm's business volume.
Clearwater-based T.O. Plastics also has a plant in nearby Otsego, Minn., focusing on medical devices.
T.O. Plastics is a manufacturing subsidiary of diversified Otter Tail Corp. of Fergus Falls, Minn.
Mission partnership creates biomed sales
Injection molder Mission Plastics Inc. of Ontario, Calif., benefits from “a great partnership” with biomedical laboratory instrument maker Beckman Coulter Inc., said Felix Rozuk, Mission's sales and marketing director.
Mission manufactures plastic parts for Beckman Coulter's biomedical lab instruments in an 11,000-square-foot area of its Ontario plant dubbed the “Beckman room.”
Mission's Ontario plant has a total of 163,000 square feet.
“We received the program from [Beckman Coulter] in 2009 when they closed down their Fullerton [Calif.] manufacturing facility,” Rozuk said.
“We absorbed it into our building, and it has helped us maintain modest growth during the bad economy.”
Mission employs 225 people.
The processor purchased portions of Beckman Coulter's Fullerton plant molding equipment, jigs and fixtures, and took possession of more than 350 molds and responsibility for more than 500 stock-keeping units and some subassemblies.
“We managed to get a majority of the parts validated within one year,” Rozuk said, crediting program manager Gerardo Medrano.
Global instrument and technology firm Danaher Corp. of Washington acquired Brea, Calif.-based Beckman Coulter on June 30.