Injection molders overwhelmingly saw accelerating growth in their medical divisions in 2020. That isn't expected to be a flash in the pan, as demand for testing products remains high.
Denver-based Intertech Plastics Inc. saw "great success" in its medical division over the last year, specifically producing the consumable components for a diagnostic product that tests for respiratory viruses, President Jim Kepler told Plastics News.
One of the injection molder's customers fast-tracked Food and Drug Administration approval to add COVID-19 to its test panel product, which screens for "several viruses at once," Kepler said, and produces results within 15-45 minutes,
"The ability to test for multiple viruses at once differentiates the product we mold for vs. other products that might just be for COVID alone," he said.
That product line was "robust" before the pandemic, and it is expected to stay strong though 2021 and 2022, Kepler added.
Intertech's other growing medical customers include those manufacturing blood and fluid-pathway devices, and blood draw and testing equipment.
Both of the company's divisions are growing at similar rates and each remain about 50 percent of its business, he said.
Kepler said $3 million of a $7 million expansion will go toward its clean room capacity for nine new machines, four of which be installed in 2021, its quality assurance lab and tooling capabilities.
Earlier this year, the company's medical division received MedAccred accreditation.
"The audit process verifies that we have met industry requirements in process capability, equipment, quality controls, qualified personnel and process validation, and eliminates timely steps for our potential customers," Kepler said in a news release at the time. "We want to support medical device manufacturing in the U.S., and this is a step in the right direction."
Intertech was challenged this year by "an acceleration of retirements" early in the year, Kepler said, which he thinks were "driven by perception" changes after the pandemic.
"I don't think it's a coincidence," he said. "We have a lot of change in front of us, and it's an opportunity to hire great people."