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Custom molder finds rapid growth 
among medical OEMsCustom molder finds rapid growth 
among medical OEMs

Doubling business in two years—especially two recessionary years—is no small feat, but for this injection molder, the medical industry provided an excellent opportunity for growth without adding a lot of capital equipment or debt.

Clare Goldsberry

February 3, 2011

6 Min Read
Custom molder finds rapid growth 
among medical OEMs

Some say growth costs money, but for Mastercraft Cos., a Phoenix, AZ-based custom injection molder and mold manufacturer, it was careful planning and taking on the right business at the right time from the right customers that boosted sales by 46% in 2010. The right business came from medical OEMs—who were also the right customers.

While Mastercraft, composed of moldmaker Mastercraft Mold and molding operations Polycraft Industries, has always had some medical business in its portfolio, that industry segment grew from 20% of Mastercraft’s sales in 2008 to 75% in 2010. “We did this without adding a significant number of machines or other equipment, and without borrowing money,” says Dale H. Behm, Mastercraft’s COO.

Mastercraft saw significant expansions of new products among its existing OEM base in the medical device industry. “One of our customers had just one mold running with us at the beginning of 2010,” Behm explains. “We then built 10 more tools for this customer, which are all running 24/7. We’ve taken the company from a 5.5-day operation to a full 24/7 operation, all with medical.”

Optimizing machine utilization in that way meant that Polycraft Industries used a lot of capacity without investing in a lot of equipment. Behm notes that the company added a total of seven Arburg machines in 2010, some of those pre-owned presses in excellent condition, and all of them electric to target the medical industry’s needs. “We’re going more and more electric, and of those seven presses, five were specifically for our medical customers’ requirements,” Behm says. Mastercraft currently has 33 presses, sized from 50-500 tons.

Another strategy that saves the company money as it expands its business is making use of its Clean Environment Manufacturing Cells. These CEMCs, designed and built by Mastercraft, surround specific presses to create a Class 100,000 cleanroom molding environment. “Some companies have a strategy to build a cleanroom and business will come,” says Jim Arrowsmith, Mastercraft’s national sales manager. “This isn’t always the case. Our CEMCs allow us extreme flexibility—and this is a strategic advantage for us in serving the medical industry.”

New customers were a factor in Mastercraft’s growth as well. Thoratec Corp., a new customer for Mastercraft at the beginning of 2010, came for help with a new program for its Heart Mate II Left Ventrical Assist Device (Focus on Medical, February 2010). By the end of 2010, the company had transferred its entire stable of molds to Mastercraft.

While mold moves are often difficult, Thoratec transferred all of its molds to Mastercraft from a smaller molding company. “Thoratec’s products were becoming FDA approved and the company knew it would grow substantially,” says Arrowsmith. “They needed a supplier that could grow with them. Their former supplier didn’t have the wherewithal to do that. We are now the sole supplier of the plastics requirements for their heart pump products.”

New business has also come from companies that heard about Mastercraft’s medical molding capabilities with Thoratec, Abbott Labs, and others. “When you do the kinds of things we do here, which include mold design engineering, mold build, and offering the molding services we do, others in the industry hear of you and other things start happening,” Arrowsmith notes.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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