Applied Medical acquired two Lake Forest industrial buildings in 2012, gutted the interiors and completed extensive improvements before the site reached operational status in January 2015. An open house for all team members was March 26.
The improvements included a second story 12,667-square-foot bridge that links the two buildings and provides a location for utility systems including a cogeneration system now being installed.
Now, the Lake Forest buildings occupy 146,026 square feet — up from 107,000 square feet at acquisition.
The site is about 4 miles from Applied Medical's corporate headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, where the firm occupies more than a dozen buildings. Other operations are in nearby Irvine.
In moving certain operations to Lake Forest from Rancho Santa Margarita, the company quadrupled its space for horizontal injection molding to 64,895 square feet and for mold and machine maintenance to 20,500 square feet.
Currently, Applied Medical operates injection molding presses in two of three molding cells. Measured positive-air-pressure atmospheric controls are in place. The firm anticipates fully utilizing the third molding cell and reaching the site's maximum capacity of 70 presses within five years.
Meanwhile, the firm uses a portion of that room for pad printing logos onto products, and research and development trials with a metal injection molding unit. The system from Elnik Systems LLC of Cedar Grove, N.J., can perform first-stage resin-removal debinding of MIM parts and second-stage debinding and furnace sintering.
“Currently for metal parts, Applied Medical machines or stamps the material,” Samer Tall, process engineer, said during the tour.
On a second floor above the future molding cell is an area that Applied Medical uses for company and community-oriented functions usually with catered-food service and entertainment. Eventually, business activities will expand into that space.
As feasible, designers ran vacuum and material lines under floors or behind walls to avoid having ledges or exposed horizontal surfaces that might attract dust or other pollutants potentially contaminating a process.
Resin blending and conveying equipment is located outside of the molding room. Remote wall panels with fittings and sealed pass-through ports guide material and vacuum lines, control wiring and process cooling lines through the walls and into the production area.
Applied Medical technicians can maintain the equipment without having to enter the room.
The design incorporated air-gap segments to absorb possible earthquake shocks reaching the buildings.
In converting a former warehouse into the mold and maintenance facility, Applied Medical removed existing concrete and poured 16-inch-thick floors that can support mold-storage cabinets, Tall said. About 950 active molds are stored on site.
Applied Medical began making molds in-house in 2007 and, internally, has built 775 molds.
An in-house team built custom-designed tables with easy-access storage drawers that open on both sides of each table.
CraneVeyor Corp. of South El Monte, Calif., installed two top-riding single-girder 5-ton-capacity TSR cranes in the maintenance building and two top-riding double-girder 5-ton-capacity TDR cranes in the molding cells.
Self-supporting structures give the cranes the capability to operate back to back at full capacity, said Bob Norland, CraneVeyor manager of operations and head of crane sales.
Contractors for Applied Medical are installing the cogeneration system including three natural gas powered microturbines with an absorption chiller.
The system from FlexEnergy Inc. of Portsmouth, N.H., will generate 900 kilowatts of onsite energy and is projected for operation during the first quarter of 2016.
The absorption system will capture and utilize heat emanating from Advanced Medical's cogeneration/flex energy system in Lake Forest.
Applied Medical believes the installation will provide about 90 percent over the next five years of its power requirements and also operate as a backup system in the event of a grid outage.
The Lake Forest location employs 172 over three shifts. The firm expects to have more than 200 team members there eventually. The County of Orange lists an assessed value of near $17 million for the two properties.
The firm's Rancho Santa Margarita facilities, in addition to headquarters functions, house three ISO class 8 clean rooms, vertical insert injection molding, extrusion, metal machining, rubber processing, progressive stamping, mold making and automation and end-of-arm systems development.
Applied Medical began operation of an e-beam sterilization system in Irvine in late 2013 and, currently, is implementing a 33 percent expansion of that location's capacity to store finished goods along with raw materials.
Applied Medical has regional distribution centers in Middletown, N.Y.; Duluth, Ga.; Brisbane, Australia; and Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
The company's products include surgical trocars, wound protectors and retractors, advanced access platforms and a range of instruments. Annually, the company processes about 2 million pounds of resin — mostly engineering thermoplastics, silicone and rubber ― and molds more than 100 million parts.
Globally, the company utilizes cross-team communication and coordination procedures and employs more than 3,000 of whom about 2,300 are in southern California. Since its founding in 1987, the privately held company said it has never experienced a layoff. Applied Medical withholds sales details.