SHANGHAI — American medical molder and contract manufacturer MedPlast Inc. is investing several million dollars in its China plant, to expand its capabilities into blow molding, silicone and extrusion and keep up with growth there.
The company has purchased its first injection blow molding machine for its plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and is in the process of transferring silicone technologies, said MedPlast China President Tom Opielowski, in an interview at the Medtec China trade fair, held Sept. 25-26 in Shanghai.
Next year extrusion capability will be added to the $38 million Suzhou operation, which will allow MedPlast to control 80-90 percent of the production process, he said.
In addition, the company, which is based in Tempe, Ariz., is adding a fourth class 8 clean room and a class 7 clean room in Suzhou, which will help MedPlast control production costs as well as open up some new opportunities, Opielowski said.
"It's part of an effort to be more vertically integrated for our customers' sake," he said. "We're spending a lot of money adding these technologies. The more that we can offer our customers the more opportunity we have for expansion and growth in China."
The new investment follows on the company's addition last year of 30,000 square feet of space and the moving of tooling operations to a new building next door to the original facility.
"We have a considerable amount of space and all that space is related to future growth," he said. "We're in one of those businesses where we can't wait for the business to come."
MedPlast Executive Vice President Matt Langton said the company remains very interested in China.
"China continues to be a very important part of our planned footprint," he said. "We're seeing nice double digit growth out of our facility right now."
One change from plans that MedPlast discussed at last year's Medtec in Shanghai is a change of the timeline to seek manufacturing certification from China's medical device agency, the State Food and Drug Administration.
"SFDA certification is going to be a little further off than what we anticipated," Opielowski said. "Most of our customers are foreign-based. They're more concerned about us being compliant with FDA, not SFDA."
MedPlast acquired the Suzhou operation last year when it bought fellow U.S. plastic molder and contract manufacturer United Plastics Group Inc.
MedPlast reported 2012 global sales of $222 million, with 400 injection and blow molding machines at 14 factories in the United States, China and Mexico.