While the medical device industry may be expanding, the medical devices themselves are getting smaller, with tighter thresholds required in both material and molding.
In response, Trelleborg AB has expanded its silicone and thermoplastic molding capacity at Trelleborg Healthcare and Medical in Delano, Minn., building a 6,000-square-foot ISO Class 7 clean room and adding equipment for greater molding and manufacturing capabilities — including the micro-molding of silicone medical devices.
"We have increased our capacity for silicone molding while also refining the setup to leverage existing capabilities, such as the in-house tool room, to reduce lead times," said Dave Pool, operations director of the Americas, Trelleborg Healthcare and Medical. "The added space also enables us to expand our contract manufacturing capabilities to accommodate the increasing demand for product development."
Trelleborg has about 300 employees at the Delano campus between its two facilities there, a footprint that comprises about 90,000 square feet of space, including the 6,000-square-foot expansion.
The project brings to Trelleborg's Minnesota hub an in-house tool room, new presses, micro-molding machines and other equipment designed specifically for silicone molding, though the site also works in thermoplastic injection molding. The company has added a material mixing station, clean room silicone storage space, alcohol wash, tumbling machines and a packaging cell, Pool said. Trelleborg also can machine high-precision metal components at the site.
The capital investment in the new space was not disclosed by Trelleborg.
Unique to the Minnesota campus is the in-house tool room, allowing Trelleborg to build injection molds and automated solutions on site for its customers, Pool said. The tool room enables rapid response times, especially when prototyping new parts, and allows the company to precisely control the quality of parts throughout the molding development and production lifecycle.
"Vertical integration enables us to maintain greater control over quality and lead times for strategic customers," Pool said. "When we partner with customers for a new device design, it's often an iterative process to develop the optimal part. While we can remove guesswork through finite element analysis and mold flow analysis, being able to adjust the tool to optimize the part is a critical step in the process."
In addition, as the tool ages, maintenance may be required to keep it running in peak performance, and collaboration between the production and tool room employees keeps the tool in top condition for as long as possible.
"Trelleborg engineers partner with customers to optimize device designs for manufacturing, prototype parts and scale-up to production volumes," Pool said. "This can include designing a tool that matches the customer's quality expectations, creating an automated assembly process for multi-component parts or working with customers to choose the optimal material for their design. Nearly everything we do is a custom part catered to our customer's specific device requirements. Our customers partner with Trelleborg to help bring their devices to life."