Las Vegas-based molding and tooling firm Westfall Technik Inc. has refurbished and refitted a 40,000-square-foot facility in Antioch, Ill., northwest of Chicago, to serve medical device OEMs that needed more North American manufacturing capacity.
Westfall took possession of the building on March 1 and fast-tracked the refitting, Merritt Williams, chief commercial officer, told Plastics News.
The company is on target to have the plant up and running in early September in order to sync with customers with programs planned for the fall, Williams said.
"We've had customers asking us to come to that region, and we listened," he said. "We've not only garnered interest from our customers but equally [talent] that wants to join Westfall from that region, everything from process engineering to program management to technicians and assemblers."
Williams declined to comment on the total investment in the new plant.
"Ultimately we will be investing millions of dollars in new, all-electric machines for this site," Mark Gomulka, Westfall chief operating officer, said in a June 15 news release.
Westfall's preferred injection press brands are KraussMaffei, Sumitomo, Netstal and JSW, Gomulka said in the release.
The site features three Class 8-certified clean rooms, which can accommodate up to 38 injection molding presses, which will range from 35-400 tons, and one GMP-certified white space, which has room for up to 15 molding machines, the release said.
It expects the clean rooms to gain ISO 13485 certification by September, it said.
The site also features a fully functional tool room, with dedicated, climate-controlled mold storage space, Gomulka said.
Westfall is operating on a "if we build it, they will come" strategy in its medical molding capacity, he said, because "as soon as we put out one of our footprints, we sell it out immediately."
The company recently conducted site tours of the plant with key customers, Allison Lin, vice president of procurement and sustainability, told Plastics News in an email.
"We continually need to increase our clean room capacity due to customer demand, and this gives us that additional capacity as well as another location central to many of our customers," Lin said.
In the past 18 months, Westfall tripled its clean room space in Riverside, Calif., doubled it in Union City, Calif., and installed new clean rooms in both New Richmond, Wis., and in Tijuana, Mexico, Gomulka said.
The firm has acquired or launched some 19 businesses in North America in less than four years.
Westfall also plans to install three of its M3 micromolding machines, which Westfall acquired when it bought Georgetown, Ontario-based Mold Hotrunner Solutions Inc. in December 2018, in the Chicago plant, to make it a micromolding center.
The machines can micromold, without waste, highly engineered materials such as bioabsorbable resins into microscopic-sized parts, the release said.
Westfall is also considering shifting production of its NxtBio brand of bioscience laboratory consumables to the new Chicago site. In May 2019, the company acquired Claremont, Calif.-based NxtBio Technologies, which produced pipette tips, filter tips, tubes and strip tubes, vials, multiwell plates and related racking systems.
"The new Chicago plant helps to fill out the company's regional production capacities," Gomulka said. "This is a necessary location for us, right in the Midwest, in the middle of the medical corridor that runs from Chicago up to Wisconsin."
"It's just another evolution in the Westfall story," Williams said. "We added capabilities and we look forward to what the site, region and customers and talent have to offer and what we can offer in return."
In the Midwest, the company operates toolmaking facilities in Willernie, Minn.; molding in New Richmond, Wis.; and both tooling and molding in Wakefield, Mich., in the state's Upper Peninsula, the release said.
Westfall's portfolio of health care-related products includes medical devices, pharmaceutical delivery systems, diagnostic tools, including plastic parts used in COVID-19 diagnostic rapid testing, and other consumer health products.