Injection molding and tooling company Westfall Technik Inc. has expanded its North American manufacturing capacity by significantly boosting its cleanroom capabilities. The Las Vegas–based firm said it completely refitted a brownfield structure and opened it as a purpose-built, 40,000-square-foot facility near Chicago. The building is equipped with three Class 8 cleanrooms and one white space certified for meeting good manufacturing practices (GMP). Westfall expects the cleanrooms, which can accommodate up to 23 injection molding presses, to gain ISO 13485 certification by September 2021. The GMP-compliant space can accomodate up to 15 molding machines. Press sizes will range from 35 to 400 tons in clamping force.
The site also features a fully functional tool room, with a dedicated, climate-controlled mold storage space.
In the past 18 months, Westfall has tripled its cleanroom space in Riverside, CA; doubled it in Union City, CA; and installed new cleanrooms in both New Richmond, WI, and in Tijuana, Mexico, said Chief Operating Officer Mark Gomulka.
Moreover, the firm has acquired or launched some 19 businesses in North America in less than four years. Westfall Technik is operating on the “if we build it, they will come” strategy as it relates to medical molding capacity, Gomulka noted. “As soon as we put out one of our footprints, we sell it out immediately.”
The new site northwest of Chicago has a molding legacy, having begun as All West Plastics Inc. in Antioch, IL. Custom injection molder and toolmaker MGS Mfg. Group Inc. bought the plant in 2006, before shuttering it in 2020 to consolidate production in Wisconsin.
Westfall Technik bought the shell of the factory and gave it “a total facelift,” said Gomulka, who has hired several experienced employees who had worked at the plant under MGS.
Westfall also plans to install three of its M3 micro-molding machines in the Chicago plant, and make it a micro-molding center of excellence. The M3 is an all-electric, precision micro-molding technology that Westfall acquired when it bought Mold Hotrunner Solutions Inc. (MHS) in December 2018. The machine can micro mold, without waste, highly engineered materials such as bio-absorbable resins into microscopic-sized parts, said Westfall.
Westfall said it is considering shifting production of its NxtBio brand of bioscience laboratory consumables to the new Chicago site. It acquired the Claremont, CA–based company in May 2019; its product line includes pipette tips, filter tips, tubes and strip tubes, vials, multi-well plates, and related racking systems.
“Ultimately we will be investing millions of dollars in new, all-electric machines for this site,” said Gomulka. While not committing yet to which types of presses they will buy, he said that Westfall’s preferred electric brands are KraussMaffei, Sumitomo, Netstal, and JSW.
Westfall’s portfolio of healthcare-related products includes medical devices, pharmaceutical delivery systems, diagnostic tools, and consumer health products. This includes the molding of plastic parts used in Covid-19 diagnostic rapid testing for both home and clinical use.
The new Chicago plant helps to fill out the company’s regional production capacities, noted Gomulka. “This is a necessary location for us, right in the Midwest, in the middle of the medical corridor that runs from Chicago up to Wisconsin.”