Flambeau Medical Markets Group is investing more than $2.5 million and moving into the medical-device contract manufacturing business as part of a plan to grow group sales to $100 million by the end of the decade.
“That would be about 500 percent growth from where we are today,” said Tom Star, Flambeau Medical vice president of marketing and sales.
Flambeau Inc. — the Baraboo, Wis.- based plastics injection and blow molding operation of Nordic Group of Cos. Ltd. — created the medical markets division when it bought Mastercraft Cos. of Phoenix in August 2011.
To house the new medical-device manufacturing operations, Flambeau Medical has acquired a 16,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its Phoenix plant. It is building a 3,600-square-foot ISO Class 7 clean room in the acquired facility, which will have six all-electric injection molding machines with clamping forces from 55-110 tons.
“Our target is to have it operational by March 1,” Star said in a Nov. 5 telephone interview. “We just took possession of the building last week. This will be our first thrust into making medical devices.
“To contain contamination risks and achieve the quality we need for our customers, we wanted the manufacturing in a building that was separate from the current building where we do industrial molding and tooling,” he said.
He also said the company has tentative plans to expand into Costa Rica and it expects to decide by the end of this year whether to purchase a plant or build one.
Initially Flambeau will be targeting in-vitro medical diagnostic devices and in-vivo devices for long- and short-term implants, he said.
“We are aiming to penetrate the orthopedic, cardiovascular interventional, women's health, and insulin management markets,” Star said. “We are looking at several different orthopedic applications right now, including a spinal decompression instrument and an alignment fixture for physicians doing total knee replacement.”
Star said the new Phoenix plant will have “everything that's needed to make medical devices,” including a seven-axis, high-speed, computer numerically controlled machining center; a Fortus 400mc production system with a Stratasys 3-D printer; packaging, pouching and assembly operations; and ultraviolet, solvent and ultrasonic bonding stations.
“We are talking about molding components, attaching them to another component [most likely metal], assembling the product, packaging it and sterilizing it,” said Star. “The Fortus machine will give us the capability to do fused deposition modeling with PEEK, Ultem and polycarbonate,” and to lay materials down in layers to make medical-grade products.
“Nordic plans for medical to be another cornerstone piece of its product offerings,” said Star.
He said Flambeau Medical will provide product design and development, testing and process validation, bonding and sealing validation, sterilization management and help companies with intellectual property in commercializing new products.
“We intend to provide a full range of services from concept through commercialization, to make [Flambeau] a one-stop contract manufacturer for the medical-device market,” said Star.
Flambeau Medical's current plant in Phoenix operates 32 presses from 55-450 tons of clamping force. The plant also does blow molding and mold/ tooling design engineering, and manufactures Class 101 multicavity molds for high-volume production.
Nordic is a holding company created by the Sauey family to manage the family's assets, including Flambeau.
About 70 percent of Mastercraft's sales at the time of its acquisition were in medical, with products such as Emergency Medical Service boxes, first-aid boxes and cases, medical instrument boxes, paramedic cases, trauma kits, door cabinets and even components for artificial hearts. The Mastercraft business included injection molder Polycraft Industries Inc. and mold maker Mastercraft Mold Inc.
Flambeau operates 11 manufacturing facilities worldwide and employs more than 850 people. It makes hunting decoys and fishing tackle boxes, and supplies blow molded components to first- and second-tier automotive companies.
According to Plastics News' ranking data, Flambeau Inc. had North American sales of $135 million in blow molding, and $117 million in injection molding, for its fiscal year ended June 30.