Below are selected contents from MPMN's in-depth coverage of MD&M West 2006. As part of our MPMN tradition, we talk to some first-time exhibitors to find out what new products or services will be offered.
FIRST TIME EXHIBITORS
Stellartech Comes of Age at MD&M West
For more than a century, young women have made their debut into society at cotillions and other events. In some ways, the MD&M West show could be seen as the device industry’s equivalent of a debutantes’ ball—which is certainly the case for contract manufacturer Stellartech (Sunnyvale, CA).
Over its 18 years in business, the firm has seen lots of growth, including a recent expansion of its facility. In light of the medical device industry’s growing interest in outsourcing, Stellartech has recently started to actively market its capabilities. “In the past, we didn’t have to promote ourselves,” admits company president Roger A. Stern. “Networking and referrals were our means of getting business.”
Mainly focused on energy delivery, the company has developed therapeutic laser products ranging from RF ablation to high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) systems. Its products have been used to treat cardiac arrhythmia, cancer, and a rare disorder called Barrett’s esophagus. “We can produce more-traditional medical electronics, but therapeutic energy delivery is really our firm’s sweet spot,” states Stern.
Major OEMs, such as Boston Scientific, are among its customers. Stellartech has also worked with many startup companies. “We’ve done early-stage work with doctors and entrepreneurs to design products that perform a certain function or treat specific disorders,” says Stern.
MD&M West 2006 marks Stellartech’s first time as a trade show exhibitor. Stern hopes that the show will serve as a means of connecting with medical OEMs, venture capital firms, and others for future design and manufacturing projects.
Consulting Firm Plans for MD&M West
Founded in 2002 by a former FDA investigator, QS Labs offers consulting services and Web-based software to ensure regulatory compliance and promote risk management. In order to understand how a client operates, the firm first evaluates a customer’s needs, process gaps, and information silos in its quality systems, regulatory assurance, and information technology work flows, according to Cindy Cheng, business development manager for QS Labs. Based on such factors as the evaluation and initial customer specifications, QS Labs then proposes a strategy for implementing relevant best practices from the life sciences and IT industries, says Cheng.
In addition to consulting services, the company also offers a suite of Web-deployed software designed to collect and store data for companies operating under FDA regulatory oversight. The primary focus of the company’s exhibit at MD&M, this software suite provides employee certification tracking, negative- event monitoring, scheduling, reporting, and process managing. For smooth integration, the modules share a central repository.
By exposing the industry to its range of software and consulting skills, the company hopes to leave MD&M West with new contacts and increased sales potential. The firm views MD&M as an opportunity to raise awareness of the company to many important people in a condensed time span, according to Cheng. The company cites the location as an added draw, owing to Southern California’s reputation as a hub for medical device manufacturers.
“QS Laboratories’ participation in MD&M is the first time that the company will unveil itself and its products in a public setting to reach a massive audience,” says Cheng. “The event is extremely critical and important to the company. We believe that MD&M provides the perfect platform for QS Labs to launch our marketing initiatives in 2006.”
Company Senses New Opportunities
Specializing in ultrasonic technology and sensors, the company has worked with many industries since its genesis in 1992. However, Cosense has recently narrowed its focus to concentrate solely on the medical and semiconductor industries. The company offers integration of its products into increasingly smaller devices, according to company president Naim Dam.
Among the company’s products are detection and inspection systems, as well as air-bubble and noninvasive low-flow metering applications. The firm also provides products for hemodialysis, hematology, IV infusion pumps, and noninvasive diagnostics for measuring liquid level in microplates for pharmaceutical companies. “We’re finding a niche market where there is a high volume and OEM application,” says Dam.
As the company centers on the needs of the medical industry, it views MD&M as an opportunity to solidify its place in the medical device community. Though Cosense did not exhibit at MD&M Minneapolis this past year, representatives from the company perused the trade show as attendees. At MD&M West, the company will debut its own wares, which include a micron-size air-bubble detector, a blood chamber, and a disposable ultrasonic sensor for the measurement of continuous levels in bottles. The company hopes to raise awareness about its capabilities among attendees and fellow exhibitors. “We are known to a few specific customers,” says Dam. “There are many more areas in the medical industry where we can apply our technology, such as in low-cost disposables.”
Raising awareness is not the company’s only reason for exhibiting at the show. Cosense also looks forward to strolling the halls of the convention center and generating ideas about new applications for its technology, says Dam. With this added inspiration from MD&M, a host of varied applications, and the ability to cater to the trend toward miniaturization, Cosense may be on the fast track to becoming a presence in the medical industry.
With 40 years of experience in developing products for the medical device manufacturing industry, McBain Instruments (Chatsworth, CA) has had plenty of time to learn about the needs of its medical customers. And as they began integrating instruments into workstations, ergonomic issues became part of the equation. The result is the Ergonomic ZIII inspection and measurement workstation (Ergo III) the company will have on display at the MD&M West show.
“When we started thinking of it as a workstation, we started thinking of human issues,” explains president Michael Crump. The workstation is fully integrated with both the Metronics QC5300 CNC metrology application suite and the ergonomic McBain motorized height-adjustable antivibration table. An Ergo III system can be configured with a variety of application-specific optical packages for ultralong working distance and Nomarski (DIC), UV, IR, and confocal imaging, making it a good fit for “a broad range of critical measurement applications,” Crump says.
Along with the system’s precision and quality, the Ergo III can be customized. “Every one of our customers has a little different nuance of how it needs to do things,” says engineering sales manager Tom Persico. He adds that the optics, magnification, resolution, working distance, lighting techniques, camera type, and measurement inspection software in the Ergo III can all be customized. “We don’t just sell an off-the-shelf system,” he says. Crump points out that there are manual, semiautomatic, and fully automatic versions of the workstation available, along with an infrared version that is increasingly popular.
Because of trends toward miniaturized instrumentation involving microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), infrared is a focus area for McBain. “For implantable devices,” says Persico, “it’s probably the wave of the future.” The company has previously exhibited at the SemiconWest, American Society of Cell Biology, Society of Neuroscience, Scripps, Salk Institute, and Biotechnology Vendor Showcase shows. The MD&M West show, it hopes, will put McBain in a good position to show off the benefits its system can offer forward-thinking medical companies. “One of our biggest customers said, ‘I always send eight or 10 guys’,” says Persico. “If my best customer is sending eight guys, I know it’s pretty important.”
Optical Measurement Company Says ‘Bring Us Your Samples’
Lumetrics (West Henrietta, NY), a provider of noncontact optical measurement instruments, will be happy to chat with visitors to MD&M West, but it hopes those visitors don’t come empty-handed. “We would like for people to bring in some materials, and allow us to measure them on the spot,” says vice president of sales and marketing Steve Heveron-Smith. “We can tell very quickly whether a product is a good fit for our system.”
The company will be displaying its core measurement system for measuring tubing and multilayered flat films. Visitors who bring in 6-in. sample lengths of tubing, or 6-in. squares of film material, can have them measured at the Lumetrics booth and can watch the demonstration on a 42-in. flat-screen display set up to make viewing easier.
The company, founded in 2003, was originally focused on the precision optics market, and had exhibited only at optics shows. However, it recently decided to enter the medical arena, which made MD&M West an attractive place to be. “When we looked at the different markets that could use this, we found that the medical market has a real need for what we provide, and a willingness to invest in new products that will give them added capability,” says Heveron-Smith.
Lumetrics measurement systems can measure the thickness of individual layers of multilayer film for test strips, as well as inside diameter, outside diameter, wall thickness, concentricity, and ovality of plastic tubing for medical applications. Measurements are taken simultaneously, which Heveron-Smith says is unique in the industry and provides time and cost savings.
Because Lumetrics systems are noncontact, there is no chance of distortion of the material, as with manual measuring. This measurement enhances accuracy. The company also offers automated data collection, helping avoid errors. “It is an objective measurement, versus subjective,” says Heveron-Smith. “In the medical field they like it to be exact, and they like it to be repeatable.”
In attending both the East and West MD&M shows last year, the company encountered many potential customers. This year, they are hoping to show companies what they can do.
Power Supply Company Is All Charged Up
Based in the Midwest, the manufacturer of power conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies exhibited roughly 10 years ago at MD&M East. Ten years later, customization abilities serve as the impetus for the company’s return to medical trade shows. The firm produces units that protect against power disturbances such as surges, electrical noise, and blackouts for imaging, patient-monitoring, clinical laboratory, and mobile cart applications.
Amid its success in a niche field, Powervar recently realized the need to customize its protective devices in order to provide for a broader range of applications, according to Denny Ver Mulm, the company’s vice president and director of marketing. The company can work with customers to develop custom solutions. “Powervar will now be uniquely positioned to provide for the needs of our healthcare OEM customers who need something other than off-the-shelf products,” says Ver Mulm.
In order to inform the industry of these additional services, Powervar is set to globetrot this year to MD&M East and MEDTEC Stuttgart, in addition to Anaheim. As its first stop, MD&M West gives the company an opportunity to forge new relationships, ideally leading to a number of custom design projects. In Powervar’s eyes, MD&M West offers a stronger likelihood of gaining new customers than other medical trade shows it might attend.
“We sell our products almost exclusively to manufacturers and medical OEMs. While it’s easy for us to find plenty of medical shows, in most cases our target audience is an exhibitor at these shows, and they are too busy in their own exhibits to visit with us about what Powervar does,” says Ver Mulm. “MD&M conferences are different since the attendees are medical manufacturers, our target audience.”
Indian Company Seeks to Attract U.S. Customers
Many people come to California to pursue their dream of being a big movie star. As for Surgimedik (Yorba Linda, CA), the contract firm is coming to California to be a big star as well—but in medical manufacturing.
Exhibiting for the first time at MD&M West, the company sees the show as an opportunity to introduce itself to medical OEMs looking for offshore manufacturing. As part of its strategy to get more U.S. customers, in April 2005 Surgimedik opened a North American sales office in California. “It is a known fact that 70–80% of large medical businesses are based in California. The state is also known for its high-tech industry, so medical manufacturers find it easy to get a trained labor force. For this reason, we consider California to be the hub for medical device manufacturing in the United States, so opening an office here makes sense,” says Joe Israni, vice president of U.S. operations.
Offering a full line of services, from product design to packaging, Surgimedik is headquartered in Mumbai, India. The company is a regular exhibitor at Medica, Europe’s leading medical trade show, and counts many European medical OEMs among its customers.
Israni feels that Surgimedik’s overseas location is a major selling point for medical manufacturers. “By outsourcing manufacturing and assembly to our facility in India, companies can make the same high-quality products that can be made in the United States, but at a lower cost,” he says.
While the firm’s specialty is urological equipment, including catheters, stents, and stone retrieval products, Surgimedik also makes items for gastroenterology, nephrology, radiology, and gynecology. The company offers injection molding and insert molding, as well as tipping, hole punching, adhesive bonding, pad printing, and soldering. Assembly is done in Class 100,000 cleanrooms. Packaging and labeling are also available.
Booth # 1612
The Answer Is Plastics for Diener Electronic
When venturing into a new area of business, most companies have an idea where to look for customers. As it moves into the medical market, Diener Electronic North America (Reading, PA) is looking at the plastics industry, especially plastics suppliers exhibiting at MD&M West, for potential customers.
The German-based plasma systems provider set up its U.S. facility in May 2005. Diener Electronic is well known in Europe for its plasma technology, and counts B. Braun and Novartis among its customers. The firm is still working hard to establish brand awareness in the United States. “We attended a semiconductor packaging show in September, and we’ve sold a few machines, so we’re off to a good start,” says Dennis Merkel, vice president for North American sales.
The company recently introduced PlasmaBeam, an atmospheric plasma processor that is used for surface cleaning and activating materials such as plastics, metals, glass, and ceramics. Medical manufacturers have used the processor for marking silicone catheters. “When the PlasmaBeam is used to activate the surface prior to marking, the ink doesn’t smear on the finished product,” says Merkel. The processor can also be used for preparing surfaces for gluing or bonding.
This year’s MD&M West marks Diener Electronic North America’s first medical manufacturing trade show. The company has Merkel’s son to thank for the idea. “My son is an engineer at Surgical Specialties. He attended MD&M East in June and told me it was a great fit for us,” he says.
The company believes that the high number of plastics suppliers exhibiting at MD&M West will translate to high levels of interest in its equipment. Plans include a live demonstration of the PlasmaBeam system, which Merkel hopes will generate a lot of attention.
Wheel Manufacturer Turns to MD&M West
A fledgling company in the United States market, Nansin USA Corp. (Santa Fe Springs, CA) is only four years old. However, with a parent company that grosses more than $80 million a year in Asia, the wheel and castor manufacturer has a strong foundation to build upon. Though the company admits it has a ways to go until equaling its owner’s success, Nansin USA is confident in its abilities.
With a little parental guidance, that is.
Nansin has been making castors and wheels for more than 70 years in Japan, with additional facilities in Malaysia, Taiwan, and China. Though it operates from headquarters in California, Nansin USA currently imports its wares from these Asian locations. Among these products are a diverse selection of castors, wheels, and brake systems. The firm offers a variety of options for matching applications with the most suitable wheel or castor.
Although wheels are easily marketable almost anywhere, the company is targeting the medical industry. Applications include medical beds, IV stands, pushcarts, automated guided vehicles, and cleanroom equipment. Because of this push for medical applications, the company is heading to MD&M West for its first foray into medical trade shows.
The firm has been familiar with MD&M for many years, but decided to take the plunge this year to make the company known to the industry, according to Hitoshi Watanabe, the company’s general manager. Nansin USA will travel to MD&M with a supply of wheels, castors, and certifications. An ISO 9001– and 14001–certified company, Nansin prides itself on its eco-friendly standards, going so far as to change the plating used in the company’s manufacturing process to an environmentally safer alternative.
However, the company’s main objective is clear: making contacts. “We are well known in the Asian market, but not many people in the United States know our company,” says Watanabe. The firm plans to woo engineers at MD&M with brand recognition. Nansin USA hopes that engineers who are familiar with the Nansin name and attached success will be drawn to the booth, and the company can then discuss the capabilities of its U.S. division.
The company’s endeavors so far in the United States have dealt mainly with wheel replacements. However, the firm aspires to form strong bonds with other companies for whom they can supply wheel-related items for a valuable end product. By nurturing these relationships, the company foresees the expansion of its operations over time. And with a little luck and a push from its parent company, Nansin USA may achieve its goals.
Device Manufacturer Opts to Keep It Clean
Here’s a riddle: which came first, an equipment line or its manufacturer? It could be just a strange twist on an old joke, but for Clean Room Devices LLC (CRD; Westminster, CO), the answer is “both.”
Back in 1993, company president and CEO Jon Page founded Advanced Mechanical Technologies Inc. (AMT), a custom engineering firm. It helped companies develop various products for the medical device industry, including syringe infusers, ambulatory infusion pumps, and surgical cutters. The company also designed cleanroom equipment, such as systems for automated syringe filling and dental paste dispensing and packaging. When Page noticed that AMT’s cleanroom processing equipment could be used by other companies, CRD was born.
Since many medical manufacturers use tubing in their products and equipment, CRD offers cleanroom-friendly tubing cutters and tubing expanders. The company also offers laboratory grinders and pass-through windows. Although the products are specifically designed to meet cleanroom requirements, they can be used in virtually any manufacturing environment.
CRD has chosen the MD&M West show to premier its line of products. In conjunction with AMT, it is also offering its services to medical OEMs that need application-specific devices. “We’re using the show to announce our expansion into the cleanroom market,” says Page. “This industry is poised for dramatic expansion, and we intend to be part of it.”
B&W Tek Presents Its Laser Solutions at MD&M West
When it comes to trade show participation, some companies take their time, carefully choosing the shows that best meet their needs. In the case of contract manufacturer B&W Tek (Newark, DE), it was nearly a decade before the company made the leap.
Founded in 1997, B&W Tek started out supplying customers with spectroscopy equipment, diode laser systems, and fiber lasers. In recent years, the company has been successful in developing therapeutic lasers for the medical and dental industries. The firm counts Johnson & Johnson among its medical OEM customers.
Even with an established client base, B&W Tek waited for the right moment to branch out into trade show participation. “It was only recently that we started looking for the right shows. We didn’t feel we were ready for trade show exposure until now,” says chief operations officer Jack Zhou. The company first exhibited at the FACSS and Neuroscience 2005 events this past fall.
Zhou believes B&W Tek’s greatest strength is its ability to provide turnkey solutions to medical OEMs. “We are ready to do the design and development, as well as manufacturing, for companies that need therapeutic laser instrumentation,” he states.
Getting new contract manufacturing business is the main focus for B&W Tek at the show, says Zhou. However, the company will also have spectrometers on display to appeal to attendees who may be looking for measurement devices.
Software Developer Offers Product Examples, Plus Free Analysis
SterlingTech (Tenafly, NJ) has been developing medical device software for six years, working with such top-shelf companies as Guidant and Intermedics. Now the company is reaching out, seeking to broaden its customer base and open offices in new locations. Exhibiting at trade shows is part of the plan; according to founder and principal Dan Sterling, “The MD&M shows focus precisely on our target audience.”
The company has offices in New Jersey and Texas, and exhibited at both the MD&M East and MD&M Minneapolis shows this year. It will be at MD&M West for the first time in hope of building interest in its services in preparation for opening a Southern California office. “The West show is perfect for us as we’re trying to build our base,” Sterling says. The show is also a chance to meet existing and potential customers from other areas who weren’t at the other two shows.
SterlingTech’s booth will feature two main attractions. One is a sampling of devices they helped clients develop. These include a noninvasive glucose monitor, for which Sterling developed the entire computer subsystem, selecting and integrating hardware with data acquisition, LCD, and touch screen subsystems, and creating software for the graphic user interface, data collection, and algorithm processing. The interface, an embedded PC application, could easily be reconfigured to work with another device.
The other device is for treating osteoporosis. Sterling did all of the software testing and handled much of the regulatory documentation. The device, which currently has the CE mark and is marketed in Europe, is about the size of a bathroom scale. Patients stand on the apparatus, and its gentle vibration helps to stimulate bone growth. “If you’re walking a trade show, it’s actually quite soothing,” Sterling says.
Visitors who are ready to sit down can take advantage of Sterling Tech’s free project analysis service, which includes key deliverables, a timeline, and an investment schedule. The analysis is formatted as a tool that a start-up company could present to investors or a project manager could present to upper management, according to Sterling. “It’s done in a format that gives people value,” he says.
Tooling Company Presses Customer Service
Specializing in CNC lathe live and fixed tooling, Exsys offers what it deems a one-stop shop for tooling needs. Catering to all major manufacturers, the firm carries more than 8300 lines of tooling and provides everything from wrenches to collets to tool holders.
The company is a frequent presence at trade shows. However, MD&M West will be Exsys’s first medical show. “Some of our vendors are within the medical field, but this is something that we’re venturing into on our own,” says Scott Leitch, the company’s media director.
As a first-time exhibitor at the show, Exsys plans to drum up attention for its Preci-Flex tooling system. The system uses a single base holder for collet and other tooling adaptors, while facilitating lathe-tooling changeovers, according to the company. The firm claims that the system saves time and money.
Though promoting its latest product is a priority at MD&M, the company will also educate attendees about tooling options. Exsys employees spend a good deal of time on the road, seeking to impart their tooling wisdom to customers and vendors. In addition to trade shows, Exsys attends open houses where machines are displayed. The company travels to open houses as a resource for live tooling and to ensure proper tooling use, according to Leitch.
“That’s the majority of the reason why we go to trade shows and open houses, for informational purposes. A lot of people have questions and the machine people may not know about the tooling, as far as it working properly,” says Leitch. “Some people just don’t get it. So you have to be there, walk them through everything, and have them hold the stuff and show them that ‘this fits into here.’”
This hands-on approach to customer service is what drives Exsys. As Leitch notes, the medical industry is flourishing, and the competition is fierce as more manufacturers of CNC lathe tooling enter the realm. However, with personal service and eagerness to educate its customers, Exsys makes its presence known. “Not only do we sell the tooling, but we inform the consumer or purchaser,” says Leitch. “It’s more than just handing off the product and saying, ‘call us if you have any problems.’”
Precision Grinding Company Seeks Direct Connections with Medical Customers
Since it was founded in 1973, Myers Precision Grinding (Cleveland) has served many industries, including aerospace, automotive, and food and beverage. The company has also had many customers in the medical device industry. However, those contacts were rarely direct. Most often, they were through contractors working for medical companies, according to marketing coordinator Michelle Tenebria. “We realized that some of our production jobs were for the medical industry, but there was a middleman,” she says.
Though happy to continue working with existing customers, the company decided to reach out directly to the medical field. At the Job Shop show in Ontario, CA, a chat with the exhibitor next door led the way to MD&M West. “Presently 15–20% of our customer base is in medical-related products, so we thought it would be beneficial to exhibit in one of the largest medical trade shows,” says Tenebria.
Tenebria explains—as her father, the company’s founder, once explained to her—that Myers is one of the few companies still focused on precision grinding. This gives it a broader range of capabilities in this area than most. “We have more than 36 thread grinders here alone,” she says. Though many existing machine shops started in thread grinding, most left to specialize in other areas, she explains.
The company offers internal and external thread grinding on a variety of materials, with unlimited pitch or form of thread variations. It also provides precision cylindrical grinding, both inside and outside diameter, on its own CNC grinders. The company’s booth at MD&M West will include a display of a variety of pieces that show off these capabilities.
Medical applications for Myers services include grinding of bone screws, bone taps, ceramic cores to be used in joint manufacture, and lead screws to be used in medical equipment, Tenebria says. By visiting the booth, potential medical customers can make a direct connection, take advantage of the company’s wealth of experience and range of capabilities, and get the type of personalized attention that only a family-owned company can offer.
Provider of Membranes and Laminates Seeks New Customers and Applications
Many companies come to the MD&M West show looking for new customers. Donaldson Membranes (Ivyland, PA) is also looking for new medical applications for its products. “We became involved in a medical application for our material about a year ago, and this made us realize that there could be other applications in the medical industry for our unique material,” says Elaine Barr, the company’s sales manager of technical products. “Also, since our material is a high-end, fairly expensive product, it would more likely be used in critical applications such as medical devices, where quality and performance are so important and highly valued.”
The company will be exhibiting Tetratex expanded PTFE membranes and laminates. The products have oleophobic and hydrophobic capabilities for medical vent filters used in ostomy bags, transducer protectors in hemodialysis equipment, spike vents, IV administration sets, and capsule filters, among other applications. Also on display will be a newly developed ePTFE membrane technology that Barr says allows for “excellent retention with higher flow rates.”
This will be Donaldson’s first time exhibiting at a medical industry show. Previously, the company has exhibited at the Filtration Show and the American Filtration Society show. While at MD&M West, the company is hoping to increase visibility and recognition in the medical industry, targeting companies manufacturing medical devices or components that could use its material. “Our material has traditionally been used in various types of filters,” says Barr, “so a company that either makes a vent filter for a medical device, or whose medical device needs a vent filter, could be interested in our materials.”
The company would also like the chance to explore new applications for its products—especially its Tetratex ePTFE membranes. “Our material has many unique characteristics that could be beneficial to the medical device industry,” Barr says. And while other companies currently supply PTFE membrane materials for several types of applications, “we aren’t sure what new applications might be developed in the future. We hope to identify some of these opportunities by exhibiting at the MD&M show.”