MTD Micro Molding has forged a strong identity in the challenging field of micromolding. Some of the parts are so small you can make 520 parts from a single pellet of resin. The company ships 8.5 million parts a year.
These are critical tiny parts, molded in ISO Class 8 clean rooms. About 90 percent of the components MTD molds get implanted into the body. Of those, 80 percent are bioresorbable applications, like implantable staples, microscrews, tacks and microplugs.
Markets include a range of medical micromolding, for orthopedic, drug delivery, interventional cardiology, wound closure, intravascular, neurological, ear nose and throat, and the growing field of minimally invasive surgery.
Few molders can tackle the challenge. About 20 percent of new projects come to MTD as "rescues," in other words, failed attempts by other molders. Another 30 percent are projects deemed "impossible," that other molders would not even try to make. MTD builds the miniscule molds in-house and plays an important role with part design.
So it shouldn't be surprising that customers said MTD is a strong partner. One official said his company picked MTD because it was "the most responsive and had the best technical ideas and seemed to have capabilities went far beyond other companies. MTD has very good understanding of Food and Drug Administration regulations," he said.
"It's an amazing company. The perfect mix of family and professionalism," said a senior buyer and customer who got to tour MTD's plant in Charlton. "I was jealous. I wanted to work there."
On the quality side, on-time delivery has steadily improved in recent years to more than 95 percent. The cost of non-quality has gone down dramatically. On MTD's largest product line, an implantable, bioabsorbable product, the company reports it has molded and shipped more than 17 million parts since production began and averaged only 2.4 returns per year, with zero returns, when the submission was written.
MTD included five case studies with its submission. One was titled "Impossible to Possible."
In 1972, Richard Tully founded a mold maker specializing in tiny molds, Miniature Tool & Die Inc. The company began molding small medical parts in 1988.
In 1999, Boston Scientific approached Miniature Tool & Die to build a mold for what was then the world's smallest plastic part. That was the beginning of MTD Micro Molding. Richard Tully retired in 2008, and his son, Dennis Tully, bought out his father and became owner and president.
In addition to solid customer relations and quality, MTD also scored good marks on financial performance, employee relations, industry and public service, and technology.
MTD is the smallest of the four finalists. The company generated sales of $8 million in 2017, a 10.4 percent increase over 2016. The growth rate over the last four years is 39.4 percent. MTD made Inc. magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in 2017, for the second time.
And the company is about to grow physically, as well, planning to break ground this spring for a 12,000-square-foot addition to its building in Charlton. The expansion will include a new tooling department, more clean room space, additional storage and a fitness center for the firm's 32 employees.
Finding skilled manufacturing employees is hard enough. Throw in the painstaking detail needed for micromolding, where you need a microscope to see part details, and it becomes a major challenge. MTD claims high employee retention, with average tenure of six years, in an environment of hiring new people in recent years, and 15 years of experience in the medical sector. The total team has more than 400 years of experience in plastics, tooling and the medical device industry, according to the company's award submission.
One mold technician called MTD a "close family," adding that he enjoys "the work environment along with the level of precision and attention to detail it takes to create the molds we build. They take great care of us at MTD."
MTD has good benefits. And the little things matter: Each employee gets a birthday card and a gift, a nice personal touch.
Technology is a major part of MTD — and its unique components. The company runs 13 injection molding machines, most of them Sodicks. All of them have robots, other automation and vision systems. The company recently added a vertical rotary Sodick to increase overmolding of the micro parts.
In April, MTD accepted the Manufacturing Excellence Award for the small business category at the Worcester Business Journal's Manufacturing Summit.
The company also has hired its first in-house information technology technician — IT was previously outsourced — to support employees, integrate all molding equipment and get the data online. This year, the company is hiring a research and development engineer focused on bioabsorbables, a new position.
A major investment was a Sarix micro EDM system. Sarix equipment can make corners that can measure 5 microns.
Charlton is a small town, and MTD plays an outsized role locally, which helped the molder score well in the industry and public service area. MTD and its employees support Red Cross blood drives, host a drop off location for Toys for Tots, and sponsor and donate money to local events and the high school robotics team, among other causes.
Employees go to a variety of trade shows and industry events, and MTD exhibits as well. Alex Maroon, project engineer, presented a paper at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Antec last year on micromolding with bioabsorbables.
MTD regularly sends its sales team to medical device companies for "lunch-and-learns," a critical part of spreading the message about micromolding.
MTD was self-nominated by Lindsay Mann, the company's director of marketing.