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A toolmaker and mechanical engineer by training, Brett Nelson was frustrated building molds for someone else and seeing opportunities for improvement being ignored. So, he started a contract molding business, and 20-plus years on, he can take a great deal of satisfaction at having built a thriving company. Advanced Molding Technologies (Circle Pines, MN) has just completed its second expansion in two years, doubling in size to more than 84,000 sq ft. He credits the company's success to a laser-like focus on tooling and engineering and a proactive approach to meeting customer needs.

Norbert Sparrow

April 11, 2014

2 Min Read
Advanced Molding Technologies doubles capacity; grows medical molding business

A toolmaker and mechanical engineer by training, Brett Nelson was frustrated building molds for someone else and seeing opportunities for improvement being ignored. So, he started a contract molding business, and 20-plus years on, he can take a great deal of satisfaction at having built a thriving company. Advanced Molding Technologies (Circle Pines, MN) has just completed its second expansion in two years, doubling in size to more than 84,000 sq ft. He credits the company's success to a laser-like focus on tooling and engineering and a proactive approach to meeting customer needs. The latest expansion exemplifies these principles.

The new building includes more than 5000 sq ft dedicated to ISO Class 7 cleanroom assembly and white room packaging operations. Additional space is dedicated to industrial assembly, packaging, and distribution for a business that was recently acquired, as well as an expanded mold maintenance and repair shop and room for additional molding machines.

The company currently has 32 injection presses and plans to bring in eight more in the next 18 months.

Business has been strong across the board, says Nelson, adding that it has been especially robust in the medical, construction, consumer products, and automotive sectors. Of those industries, "the medical market has moved a bit faster than the others," Nelson told PlasticsToday. The company's credo of being proactive is paying dividends, he adds. "For example, we try to anticipate where FDA is headed on relevant issues," says Nelson. A case in point is the expertise it has developed in processing Eastman's Tritan material.

Given the controversy surrounding the use of Bisphenol A (BPA), which some studies have linked to health problems, medical device manufacturers are looking for polycarbonate (PC) replacement materials, and one of the best is Tritan, says Nelson. Advanced Molding Technologies was approached by a large medical manufacturer several years ago that wanted to transition from PC to Tritan. The supplier selection process was a bit unusual, says Nelson.

The medical manufacturer selected a handful of molders and invited them to a training session with materials supplier Eastman. In addition to the communal training sessions, Eastman engineers offered one-on-one time, and Advanced Molding Technologies took full advantage of the opportunity.

"PC replacement is a new segment of industry that has been successful for us," says Nelson. "It comes at a high price, however. The molds are difficult to build and the material has narrow process window."

Through its consultations with Eastman engineers, Advanced Molding redesigned its tooling to optimize mold cooling, which is critical when processing Tritan materials. In large part because of that initiative, Advanced Molding got the contract. "Advanced was the most successful at molding Tritan material," said the customer. And the relationship with Eastman continues. "They were out here just last week," says Nelson.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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