Medical Musings: NPE2012 was a medical showcase

The tilt of the American plastics industry toward the medical market was apparent at NPE2012 last week in Orlando, FL where many major exhibitors showed new production systems targeting the growing, high-value healthcare field.

The first-ever Medical Products Pavilion was held at the show and the Society of Plastics Industry's Business of

Two-component (ABS and elastomer) parts for auto-injectors were molded at the Engel stand.

Plastics Conference featured a full day track on Medical & Healthcare. The winner of the Judges Award at the International Plastics Design Competition held at the show was a syringe barrel with an injection molded label (IML).

But the real evidence was out on the show floors where several exhibitors indicated increased interest in the medical market.

One that I found particularly interesting was longtime packaging powerhouse Husky (Bolton, Ontario), whose officers told reporters at a show press conference that medical fits right into the company's sweet spot.

"It's right up our alley," said Jeff MacDonald, VP of marketing. "It's very sophisticated and high volume." Husky produced a 0.35 gram IV breather cap part on an H-MED AE (all-electric) injection molding machine at NPE2012. 

CBW Automation ran the award-winning syringe barrel in an excellent technology demonstration with partners Mold-Masters, Milacron, Tech Mold, PolyOne Corp. and Inland Label.

Other interesting medical demonstrations at NPE2012 included:

  • Sumitomo Demag ran three medical part demonstrations, including production of an Ultem polyetherimide barb stop used in US Endoscopy's iSnare system on a 55-ton press. The part, weighing just 0.0772 gram, was molded in a two-cavity-cold runner mold made by Sansyu Fine Tool. The optional SL screw assembly in the machine eliminates the compression zone of the screw, improving pressure stability, according to Sumitomo Demag. The dryer and loader in the demo of the Makuta
    Sumitomo Demag ran three medical exhibits at NPE2012.

    Technics process were supplied by Una-Dyn.

  • Engel ran two medical demonstrations. In one, an all-electric cell produced auto-injectors in a two-component process with a 16+16 cavity index platen mold. In the second demonstration, an all-electric cell produced polystyrene needle holders for safety syringes with a 16-cavity tool.
  • Milacron showed a Roboshot all-electric injection molding machine running a 2-cavity plunger tip liquid silicone rubber (LSR) mold from Indiana-based Remke. An M-PAK extruder ran complete with downstream equipment producing medical tubing.
  • Arburg showed its Allrounder as a stainless steel machine producing 2 ml syringe barrels in 6.5 seconds in a 32-cavity mold. The completely encapsulated stainless steel clamping unit can be cleaned quickly, Arburg said.
  • Sodick Plustech molded a medical syringe made of cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) in a mold developed by Nypro (Clinton, MA).
  • Toshiba molded medical syringes using Bayer polycarbonate supplied by PolyOne on a 110-ton machine in the new Clean Flow Box, a portable enclosure covering the EC SX's material feed end. A particle counter displayed the enclosure's HEPA filter limits air contaminants. Also in the work cell were a Yushin robot that extracted syringes from the mold, a Toshiba SCARA robot that placed finished parts in partitioned cartons, and a Thermo Fisher Scientific water system.
  • Krauss-Maffei's AX 100-380 produced medical parts with an emphasis on maximum energy efficiency.
  • Haitian introduced its all-electric Zhafir Mercury series injection molding machines to the North American market.



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