Molder Spotlight: How Spectrum Plastics lives up to its name

As company names go, Spectrum Plastics Group (Alpharetta, GA) has the virtue of clarity, and that’s saying a lot. The company provides a full, ahem, spectrum of services and products—from plastics injection molding and extrusion to packaging and assembly—to global medical device OEMs via 20 plants in five countries. 

The name in its current incarnation is new—Spectrum Plastics Group was formed in May 2017, when private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. acquired injection molding company Pexco and merged it with portfolio business PPC Industries, which includes Kelpac Medical—but it has a legacy. The Spectrum Plastics Group, which dates back a number of decades under different ownerships, previously established a reputation for precision molding of small and micro parts. The name became part of the Pexco portfolio when it acquired Spectrum Plastics in 2013, and lay dormant until earlier this year. Mauricio Arellano, president of the group’s medical division, explained the rationale for reviving the brand when the Pexco acquisition closed.

“We now bring a full spectrum and, in most cases, unmatched set of specialty plastics capabilities to the medical device sector,” said Arellano. “The opportunity to relaunch our brand, one with a long history in medical devices and strong brand equity with our customers, was compelling. It speaks precisely to our unique position within the medical device market and our ability to support our customers’ noble mission of restoring health for millions of patients worldwide.”

Tom Flannery, Spectrum Plastics
Tom Flannery, Business Development Director, Injection Molding & Assembly.

We wanted to learn more about the company’s vision and the opportunities and challenges it faces as a supplier to the medical device industry. Tom Flannery, Business Development Director, Injection Molding & Assembly, shared his insights with PlasticsToday.

What makes Spectrum unique?

Flannery: We are the only company with the full spectrum of plastics technologies and scale to partner with the largest OEMs. We’re also specialists in high-performance, high-temperature and bioabsorbable plastics. 

What are your key product markets and geographical areas?

Flannery: The business is built around various molding and extrusion technologies, both high volume and specialty products. We operate 16 facilities across three continents and five countries, including Mexico and Costa Rica. From an injection molding perspective, our centers of excellence include Minneapolis and our facility in Reynosa, Mexico. Key product markets include single-use, sterile Class I, I I and III devices in orthopedic implants, minimally invasive surgical products and fluid-management systems.  

The Spectrum Plastics Group will be joining several hundred other exhibitors at the Midwest’s largest advanced manufacturing event in Minneapolis in November. Six co-located events, including PLASTEC Minneapolis and Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) Minneapolis, will welcome more than 600 suppliers and thousands of attendees to the Minneapolis Convention Center on Nov. 8 and 9, 2017. Go to the event website for more information and to register to attend.

What is driving the company’s growth?

Flannery: Our ability to develop and maintain an OEM’s product through the product lifecycle and to provide all the necessary services to be an extension of the OEM’s own capability. We’ve seen growth the last few years from both our implantable and bioabsorbable applications in the orthopedics and vascular segments. More recently, with our molding and assembly unit in Reynosa, we are earning more pure assembly opportunities as a contract outsourcing organization for fluid management sets. 

What is the most recent significant development at your company? 

Flannery: The ability to transfer major take-out opportunities as a contract manufacturing or original design partner. With our comprehensive assets and capabilities, as a consequence of the merger, major medical device customers increasingly have been coming to us to help them manage both ends of their own product spectrum—more mature product categories that they’d like to shift to more efficient production locations and operations to make room for new product design and development. We are now able to manage both the former and the latter. 

What concerns keep you up at night?

Flannery: With medical manufacturing continuing to evolve daily, we have to stay on top of all new developments. It’s imperative that we provide our clients with seamless support and technical expertise from initial exploratory phases or initial design and development to sustaining the product through its entire life cycle when in full production. 

What are the key attributes that medical device OEMs look for in their outsourcing partners?

Flannery: There are many, but these come immediately to mind: Superior quality and production control systems; technical strength; professionalism; strong understanding of variation, validation, and change management; design and development engineering; supply chain controls; regulatory support; product life cycle management; and last, but not least, trust, to name but a few. 

Are there any emerging trends in medical manufacturing that will affect your business model in the years ahead?  

Flannery: For the largest OEMs, supplier consolidation and vendor management are keys to our success. An executive at a major medical device OEM recently told me that more than ever they need suppliers who can offer a greater spectrum of services and products. They need a supplier who can competently manage the supply chain, regulatory compliance and engineering aspects involved with making process and product changes with more services and technologies focused on them.

Another trend in medical manufacturing are advances in polymer science, which are displacing steel and other more expensive materials. These new resins are improving patient outcomes by reducing the risk of rejection by the body not to mention reducing manufacturing costs and improving scalability. Our relationships with the leading resin suppliers and our diverse capabilities in plastics processing on a global scale enable us to partner with both the resin and device developers in ways our competition can't, supporting innovative solutions to new challenges. 

How do you see medical manufacturing evolving in terms of geographical markets?

Flannery: There are several emerging markets that need cost-effective innovations. The need to evolve technology while meeting global regulatory requirements are notable challenges.

Not to mention that markets in the United States and Europe are under immense pricing pressure. Large OEMs are fighting a losing battle and are selling off "commoditized" product lines to make way for higher tech/margin devices. Partnering with a supplier like Spectrum Plastics Group can help them maintain market share and improve margins while simplifying their regulatory and supply chain landscape.

Read more interviews in our Molder Spotlight series:

"Molder Spotlight: MVP in specialty PET"

"Molder Spotlight: Dordan’s deep dive in thermoforming"

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