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Molders, moldmakers, and machinery and material suppliers focused on the growing $146 billion medical manufacturing industry announced a bevy of new products and services at the colocated Plastec West and MD&M West shows. Held Feb.

Kate Dixon

February 24, 2009

3 Min Read
Acquisitions, expansions, and new services announced at Plastec and MD&M West shows

Molders, moldmakers, and machinery and material suppliers focused on the growing $146 billion medical manufacturing industry announced a bevy of new products and services at the colocated Plastec West and MD&M West shows. Held Feb. 10-12 in Anaheim, CA and organized by IMM and MPW parent Canon Communications LLC, overall attendance exceeded last year's event by 4-5%, and exhibitors seemed pleased with the interest level of the attendees and the optimistic attitude for creating new products and business partnerships. "When times are slow, sales are up for us. People have the time to talk about coming up with better solutions," said Jim Bott, North American sales manager for Incoe Corp. (Troy, Michigan).

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Through years of quantitative analysis, Canon's proprietary model for correlating attendance with business activity projects that the 2009 colocated event will result in the placement of $650 million in new orders throughout the year. "The success of this event for both exhibitors and attendees is a testimony to the vitality of the medical device industry, as well as other advanced manufacturing segments," said Charles McCurdy, CEO of Canon Communications.

Building on more than 20 years experience in plastics molding and medical electronics manufacturing, Jabil Inc.(St. Petersburg, FL) announced the debut of the company's single-use device business at the show. With approximately 85,000 employees and facilities in 22 countries, Jabil's SUD outsourcing business expects to provide customers with global services including design, tooling, molding, assembly, packaging, sterilization, and logistics. "We had the plastics technology capabilities and medical experience; we just had to marry the two," said Tony Allan, VP global business units for Jabil.

Another expansion was announced by Apec, a Div. of Helix Medical (Baldwin Park, CA). Its California medical device manufacturing facility is adding three new cleanrooms and doubling the size of its metrology lab. The expansion will enable Apec to increase capacity for molding, metrology, and cleanroom assembly by 50%, with a 10,000-ft2 Class 100,000 cleanroom (ISO Class 8) for injection molding and assembly, and two new assembly cleanrooms.

Global chemical company Arkema (Philadelphia, PA) added to its materials portfolio with the acquisition of Oxford Performance Materials Inc. (OPM; Enfield, CT). Oxford has spent the last decade perfecting polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), which is termed ideal for use in long-term medical implant devices. This chemically resistant, high-temperature semi-crystalline thermoplastic overcomes the magnetic resonance interference limitations of metal knee and joint replacement options and has a specific gravity close to that of bone. "OPM's single-minded focus on PEKK and Arkema's polymer competencies and capabilities will be a formidable combination in the high-performance polymer marketplace," said Scott DeFelice, president and CEO of OPM.

To fulfill requests by its customers to avoid controversial plasticizers that have been used in medical device manufacturing, Teknor Apex Co. (Pawtucket, RI) is dedicating separate production lines for vinyl medical compounds containing nonphthalate plasticizers. The changeover has taken place at two compounding plants in the U.S. and could be carried out in Singapore if there is sufficient demand. The most widely used and least expensive plasticizer in medical-grade vinyl is DEHP, but compounds with DINP, DPHP, and DIDP plasticizers, which are roughly 3-7% more expensive, are less water-extractable than DEHP, making them less prone to being absorbed into the bloodstream. "While DEHP has been used in medical devices for half a century with no recorded adverse human health interactions, regulatory initiatives-for example, the European Union labeling requirement for DEHP effective in 2010-compel some device manufacturers to seek compounds containing alternative plasticizers," according to Teknor Apex industry manager Peter Galland. "Teknor Apex is well prepared to supply medical compounds regardless of plasticizer type."

Look for more in-depth coverage of announcements, new materials, and machinery introduced at the show at plasticstoday.com.

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