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Minnesota Rubber and Plastics Builds Innovation Center to Help Customers Accelerate Time to Market

Image: Minnesota Rubber and Plastics Minnesota Rubber and Plastics Innovation Center rendering
The 9,000-square-foot facility will house design, prototyping, and tooling services under one roof, potentially removing weeks from the component development process.

Keeping the customer satisfied for Minnesota Rubber and Plastics boils down to two things — having the in-house expertise to do the job right and helping to accelerate time to market for the finished product. To further those goals, the supplier of engineered elastomer and thermoplastic products for the medical device market is building an Innovation Center that will house its engineering, design, prototyping, and tooling services under one roof. The company shared plans for the center publicly for the first time at the co-located Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West and Plastec West event in Anaheim, CA, this week.

“Through the innovation center, we are offering our customers a two-prong solution,” Dave Furlong, Global Vice President of Sales and Marketing, told PlasticsToday. “First, it allows us to get involved in our customers’ design processes earlier. We find that if we can get in significantly earlier, the overall design process, prototyping, material selection, tool design, and so forth can go much smoother.” Having those capabilities under one roof and being able to react nimbly to design and prototype requests speeds time to market, the second prong of this approach.

Currently, materials formulation, design, and prototype production may be carried out in separate facilities, sometimes in different parts of the world. “Today, it could take a week for design, a week for materials science selection, and then we have a lead time for tooling development,” explained Furlong. “We’re going to squeeze all of that down into a more concise project under one roof and turn around prototypes, in some instances, in as little as a week. To be able to provide parts in hand in such a short amount of time, and then iterate just as quickly, will allow our customers to move that much faster on end-product development,” said Furlong.

Construction of the 9,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the corporate headquarters in Plymouth, MN, will begin on Sept. 9, 2021. The Innovation Center is expected to be completed by the spring of 2022.

The center will have all of the molding capabilities across all of the company’s different material sets, which include standard black rubber elastomers, liquid silicone rubber, as well as plastics and various material combinations, said Furlong. “We will have tool manufacturing within this facility as well as compound mixing capabilities. The ability to develop custom formulations, specifically for elastomers, is a point of pride, and we're going to have all of that equipment under one roof here in Plymouth, MN.”

Minnesota Rubber and Plastics has been in business for 76 years. Specializing in material compound development and the manufacture of custom elastomeric and thermoplastic components, the company serves the medical technology, transportation, and food and beverage industries, among other sectors. In the medical arena, it develops and produces plastic parts and assmblies for surgical, diabetes management, cardiovascular, and diagnostic devices.

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