Originally Published MPMN
MD&M MINNEAPOLIS 2009: FIRST-TIME EXHIBITORS
Pad-Printer Looks to Make an Impression on Device Industry
TouchMark specializes in pad-printing such medical products as catheters, trocars, and syringes.
Coffee mugs and catheters are markedly different when it comes to printing requirements and quality, according to Jeanne Beacham, CEO of pad-printing service provider TouchMark (Hayward, CA), a division of Delphon Industries. And yet, she notes, many medical device OEMs contract their medical device pad-printing needs out to companies that spend much of their time screen-printing T-shirts, for example. TouchMark, in contrast, specializes in serving the niche pad-printing needs of the medical device industry with highly trained operators, ISO certification, and cleanroom operations. And the only coffee mugs in TouchMark’s facility are the ones being used by employees to hold their morning caffeine fix.
Although, TouchMark has catered to the medical device industry on a small scale since its inception in 1992, it primarily worked with electronics customers. When Delphon acquired TouchMark in 2006, however, Beacham and her team saw the unmet need in a lucrative industry. “We took a look to see what was needed for the medical customers and recognized that there was a terrible void out there,” Beacham recalls. With the medical market in its sights, TouchMark relocated to a new building, built cleanrooms and prep rooms, purchased metrology equipment, obtained its ISO certification, and hired skilled personnel.
Since then, the pad-printer has focused its business heavily on partnering with the medical device industry, honing its capabilities for the specific needs of these products. The company provides a variety of printing and marking services for medical devices; but, its focus for the industry is on pad-printing because the products require marks that cannot be altered and that can potentially withstand harsh environments.
“In the case of catheters or anything else that goes in the body, you really don’t want them to absorb anything because then you get bacteria and blood, etc.,” Beacham says. “It’s very difficult to then print on them and put an ink on them because, by nature, the material is designed not to [allow it]. So, we’ve had to develop many types of pretreatments in order to ensure good adhesion of these inks and very good opacity.”
TouchMark is one of the few pad-printing shops that can work with difficult materials and substrates, such as PEEK, silicones, FEP, and nitinol, which are often used in medical applications, Beacham says. It also specializes in printing on concave or complex geometries, notably 360-degree marking on catheters. In addition to catheters, typical applications include syringes, buttons for hospital beds, sheaths, trocars, and tubing.
Broadening its scope in response to customer demand, the company now also offers full turnkey services that encompass material procurement, incoming inspection of materials, material and ink selection, graphic design, and some alteration of parts. “We’ll do not just pretreatment, but we’re actually doing several processes where we do silicone coatings for the inside of a syringe for instance: the cleaning, obviously the printing, assembly, final inspection, and inventory management.”
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