Plastics companies serving the medical market are growing to meet booming demand from customers looking to mitigate risk as they start new projects with sustainability efforts in mind.
Since the pandemic, Greensboro, N.C.-based Core Technology Molding Corp. has seen sales growth of 300 percent, President and CEO Geoff Foster told Plastics News. The company's production has shifted from 5 percent biopharmaceutical supply to 60 percent. In the last few years, Core Tech has doubled its clean room capacity with a second Class 10,000 clean room and new Class 1,000 ISO 6 clean room for assembly, Foster said.
The company now has almost 50 employees, about a 25 percent growth in headcount since the pandemic started, he added. The company has also invested about $2 million in four new machines and four new robots to meet both medical and automotive demand. "That's what's really helped us be competitive and grow in the medical device area," Foster said. "It's really grown exponentially."
Demand is also rising due to reshoring, Foster said: "A lot of these OEMs are pulling existing business from China, other low-cost producing countries. They don't want their suppliers in some of these countries anymore."
Core Tech has also seen new business from customers "pulling out of Russia" because of the war in Ukraine, Foster said.
The company has worked closely with its resin suppliers, which are within a three-hour radius from Core's headquarters, he said.
"We're not putting resin or components on a ship and waiting eight to 10 weeks," he said. "That has really helped us impact the bottom line. … That's because of the efficiencies, the robotics, localization of suppliers, so that shipping cost has been reduced … by not shipping 5,000 miles away; we're shipping 150 miles away."
Last year, Core Tech was awarded an almost $3 million economic development grant, which it will use to add on to its facility, breaking ground in April 2023, he added.
Core Tech expects to double that 300 percent growth in 2023 due to existing biopharma purchase orders for the next 12-18 months, he said. Having "orders out [from] the middle of  until 2024 … really helps with our planning," Foster said. "So I can look at headcount, I can look at raw materials, I can look at labor [and machine hours].
"We're going to make 100 million plunger rods this year just for vaccines," he said. "Our customers are focused. They're putting a lot of emphasis on COVID for good reason. But the old diseases have not gone away. We're working on chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella. One big one now is HPV. … We're focused on some of these older vaccines as well."
Core Tech also expects demand to rise in reusable packaging for pharmaceutical drugs and devices, he added.