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American Plastics acquires Centrex Plastics and Creative Plastic Concepts

American Plastics acquires Centrex Plastics and Creative Plastic Concepts

American Plastics LLCAmerican Plastics LLC, a manufacturer, importer and distributor of consumer storage and commercial cleaning products based in St. Louis, MO, announced it has acquired Centrex Plastics LLC (Findlay, OH) and Creative Plastic Concepts (Sycamore, OH). American Plastics is a portfolio company of Highview Capital LLC and Victory Park Capital Advisors.

With the acquisitions, American Plastics said it will become one of the only companies in the United States to achieve national scale in the plastics industry, with a solid base of blue-chip retail and commercial customers. By combining three industry leaders, the new American Plastics also will accelerate growth of its consumer storage business.

The company will operate across 15 facilities nationwide, including five manufacturing plants and 10 distribution centers. The two newly acquired businesses bring expanded manufacturing resources and industry-leading product development and technological capabilities, including 3D printing, in-house engineering teams and all-electric, high-speed injection molding machines ranging in size from 90 to 2000 tons.

Robert Guerra will remain President and CEO of the combined company, and Nick Reinhart, owner and President of both Centrex and Creative, will be named Chief Innovation Officer at American Plastics and retain an equity stake in the combined company. American Plastics will utilize all current operations of both Centrex, which offers a variety of products for home, lawn and garden, and garage and workshop needs, and Creative’s home and garage storage capabilities and R&D resources. American Plastics will maintain both companies’ successful customer-facing brands, including Centrex’s Commander and Creative’s Shelves and Shelves West.

“This is a transformational transaction for American Plastics that unites three industry leaders driven by the same commitment to delivering top-quality products and customer service,” said Guerra. “Nick is a true innovator who has established a new level and depth of partnership driven by technology. With the added strength of the Centrex and Creative brands, American Plastics will be uniquely positioned to accelerate our sales, establish deeper partnerships with our customers and acquire additional customers throughout the country.”

American Plastics manufactures its branded products under the Continental Commercial Products, Contico, Wilen and Fundamentals banners. The company operates injection molding and manufacturing facilities in Jefferson City, MO, and Tiffin, OH, with additional distribution centers in Fontana, CA, and Toronto. 

Reinhart commented, “We are very excited to partner with American Plastics, Highview and Victory Park. Combining Centrex, Creative and American Plastics will create an experienced and dynamic team, as well as increase our geographical manufacturing footprint and capacity and provide the capital necessary to continue accelerating our growth. 

“Our advanced prototyping technologies, cutting-edge design and engineering team and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities allow us to partner with our customers to take personalized, high-quality products from concept to creation in a matter of days. We look forward to continuing to provide our retail customers with the highest quality, at the best prices, as part of the American Plastics family.”

Feel the Need for Speed? These Product Development Tips are Key

Pixabay Feel the Need for Speed? These Product Development Tips are Key

During a conference session at BIOMEDevice Boston, Bill Betten, president of Betten Systems Solutions, and Tom Waddell, CEO of the Waddell Group, shared their collective insights for getting new technologies to market fast. These were the key takeaways:

1. A corporate culture that rewards calculated risks

"The larger the company, the less likely it goes that way," Waddell said. "Small companies are much more excited about getting their product to some kind of proof of concept or in-human clinical trial and then they hope it gets sold or they can leap from there, so they have different reward levels."

Strong support from the top is key, Betten added.

2. Quality management system design 

Companies have to employ a strategy of "do what's required," not what is easy and less risky, according to Waddell. Production readiness is responsible for about 60% of the required documents for a class III medical device, he said.

Waddell said a quality management system (QMS) design is the strongest indicator of how fast a company is going to be able to develop a product. 

3. A carefully chosen team

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to develop a new medical device. From a solid project manager to a good design team and competent regulatory affairs expert, Waddell said each person on the team has to be able to work well together. While it might seem obvious, this is the part that a lot of large companies, and some small companies, have the most trouble with.

"In large organizations and in many small ones, there is more of an animosity between the various groups," Waddell said.

He was asked to lead a project for a large Minneapolis-based company that had a division in California and was working with an electronics company in Cleveland to develop a diagnostic device that could sense if a hydrocephalus patient was having a headache because of a blocked shunt or if it was just a run-of-the-mill headache. It costs about $10,000 to have a shunt replacement procedure and some companies would have several shunt replacements a year, he said.

The project was put into the fast QMS system and the team was able to develop the product in just over a year, compared to the three years it typically would have taken, Waddell said. 

"We did the product quickly, we tested it, and the product worked well," Waddell said.

What went wrong, however, is that it turned out the product didn't have as large of a market opportunity as the company had expected, and the project was killed. 

"So it was actually a good thing to know and do quickly without spending a lot of money," he said.

4. Total project vision

"You've got to look at the whole picture at the very beginning and make sure all the pieces are being put together," Betten said.

5. You must select good partners

"I can't stress this enough, having been on both sides of the equation, being the OEM guy building things totally internally, hiring partners to partner with us, and then spending eight years on the other side, working with clients and being that good partner," Betten said. "Be a good partner. Be the partner that you want someone to be for you. I don't care if you're a big company looking down the food chain at a supplier, or whether you're that little guy looking up, it's the one truism I'm taking away from my long career if you do that, good things happen."

 That's not to say there won't be bumps in the road, though. 

"It's like a marriage. It doesn't mean you aren't going to have problems, it doesn't mean that things aren't going to blow up," Betten said. "What it means is that when that happens you know how to get through it."

Why You Should Consider Augmented Reality to Develop Your Next Medical Device

Microsoft Corp. Why You Should Consider Augmented Reality to Develop Your Next Medical Device

When HS Design was hired to recreate a client's whole-body dermatology imaging system within one year, the product development firm had its work cut out for it.

Canfield Scientific's original imaging system was about 8 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and 3 feet deep and housed 92 cameras strategically placed all around the patient in order to provide a complete view of the patient's skin surface in macro quality resolution with a single capture. Then, the company's software allowed clinicians to map and monitor pigmented lesions and distributed diseases of the skin.

So if a patient returned for a second scan after having gained 20 lbs., Canfield's software would be able to identify that a lesion that appeared to have moved because of the patient's weight gain is actually the same lesion.

"That was great. They had a software that was able to do everything that they wanted it to do," said Bobby Boyer, a senior mechanical engineer at HS Design, during a conference session at BIOMEDevice Boston.

The problem was the way the large-scale imaging system was designed wasn't exactly patient friendly.

"Going into this machine, for the user was a little daunting," Boyer said. "It looked like paparazzi was all around you and all of a sudden you have to go into this thing and stand and it's a little scary. So we were tasked with basically recreating the system, housing all of the cameras into smaller pods that are removable and making sure the alignment was proper and that the users would feel comfortable and confident going into the system."

One of Canfield's requirements for the redesigned system was that one technician would be able to dismantle the system, transport it to Australia, and then reassemble it for imaging.

"That gave us a couple challenges because we had to understand where those part breakups would be so that they could actually put it together, and for it to not weigh a ton," Boyer said. "That also meant that now we had spaces in between those different parts."

So like any good product design firm, HS Design wanted to get user feedback to understand where to place the parting lines, and how the system would ultimately look and feel from a patient's perspective.

"If we wanted to prototype this and build it, it's such a large scale we would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to a prototype house, it wouldn't really be in the same material, and it would take months," Boyer said.

The firm didn't have months to spend on the prototype phase because one of the project criteria was to go from sketch to commercial product within one year. Augmented reality saved the day.

The team used the Microsoft HoloLens and input the computer-aided design (CAD) of the system and essentially overlaid it in augmented reality so that users could put on the HoloLens head-mounted display to provide feedback. Then, based on that feedback, they were able to make changes in almost no time at all, reimport it into the HoloLens, and get additional feedback from that same user.

"It's understanding how we can use this new technology in ways that have never been thought of before," Boyer said. "One thing we typically see is design firms will look at AR and say 'yeah, that's nice, but I have no use for it, I don't know how to use it,' so we're looking at it in a different way. We're saying 'we have the technology, how can we use this in our process right now?"

HS Design has found AR especially helpful for those large-scale design products like the one they did for Canfield, Boyer said. The company also has been using the technology to conduct user research and user interfaces.

The benefits of sustainable manufacturing

The benefits of sustainable manufacturing

Star Rapid

Modern resins used for plastic injection molding are something of a miracle of engineering. Strong, durable and colorful, plastics are employed to make useful products of every possible description. Earth Day 2018 on April 22 reminds us that there is a downside to the misuse of plastics, both for ourselves and all the other creatures with which we share this planet.

Star Rapid

Our safety and environmental practices may meet legal requirements, but we don't think that's good enough. As a manufacturer, it’s important that you take steps to continuously improve services and efforts that benefit the communities you work in. Let’s explore some benefits of sustainable manufacturing.

Material testing to meet environmental regulations

To meet international safety and environmental regulations, it's important to offer a world-class incoming materials inspection service. This allows manufacturers to make sure they get exactly the materials that were ordered, not a substitute or, even worse, a fake. Sadly, fraudulent materials exist in the supply chain. Not only will these materials fail to meet a manufacturer’s requirements but using them can be unsafe and even void a company’s own regulatory compliance, for example, for RoHS certification in Europe.

star Rapid

At Star Rapid, we constantly work to cull out any non-conforming materials and the suppliers who provide them. Non-standard materials may contain corrosive ingredients that will damage equipment when processed, as well as release toxic fumes. The sooner manufactures can report suspect suppliers, the sooner they will be closed down, which benefits the overall supply chain.

To ensure your manufacturing team is not exposed to hazardous chemicals, it’s essential to stay in compliance and meet certifications like ISO 14001 and BS OHSAS 18001.

Creating processes to reduce waste

Managing every step of the production process and using only best practices avoid costly and wasteful mistakes. This includes weighing and mixing of pigments, drying, careful machine set-up and final processing.

Star Rapid

At Star Rapid, we operate in an environment with high humidity much of the year. Unfortunately, some plastics are very good at absorbing moisture. If the plastic pellets become contaminated with moisture, they will not melt or inject properly, the process will be uncontrollable and the parts will be ruined. Damaged parts are not just bad for business—they become wasted material that must be effectively handled.

Manufacturers in high-humidity environments must operate within a climate-controlled facility. In our facility, we also have dedicated stainless-steel drying hoppers at every machine to safeguard the quality of the parts created. This step helps to standardize the process and keep defective material out of the waste stream.

Recycling and reusing

As a manufacturer, efficiency is always a priority. However, there is always some scrap left over, usually from the sprue/runner system of the plastic injection mold. Although unavoidable, this scrap doesn’t need to be just thrown away. 

At Star Rapid, we segregate all of our plastic scrap according to major types—nylon, PE, PP, UHDP, styrene and so forth. These materials are then sent to a licensed recycler to be reused. Wherever possible, material is re-ground back into plastic pellets and used again with no loss in functionality—a notable benefit of thermoforming resin. Recycling and reusing saves money, energy, natural resources and keeps unnecessary plastic out of the environment.

Star Rapid

Working toward a sustainable future

3D printing has proven to be a very efficient production method as it creates a smaller carbon footprint since there is less waste and it requires less energy.

There are also many promising developments on the horizon for new types of materials to supplement or even replace plastics as we know them, like vitrimers. As they become more commercially viable, manufacturers should be curious about researching their use and putting them to work on the manufacturing floor for the next rapid prototyping or low-volume manufacturing order.

Gordon Styles is the founder and president of Star Rapid, a provider of rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and low-volume production services. Utilizing his background in engineering, Styles founded Star Rapid in 2005 and under his leadership the company has expanded to 250 employees. With an international team of engineers and technicians, Star Rapid combines advanced technologies—such as 3D printing and multi-axis CNC machining—with traditional manufacturing techniques and high-quality standards. Prior to Star Rapid, Styles owned and managed the United Kingdom’s largest rapid prototyping and rapid tooling company, STYLES RPD, which was sold to ARRK Europe in 2000.

Getting in on the Embolic Protection Action for TAVR

Emboliner Embolic Protection Catheter, Courtesy of Emboline Getting in on the Embolic Protection Action for TAVR

There has been an increase in the need for embolization protection devices as the risk for stroke and other neurological damage from transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures continues to become more prevalent.  

Santa Cruz, CA -based Emboline is looking to enter the embolization protection space, which is set to grow from $406 million this year to $605 million by 2023, according to a report from ResearchandMarkets. The emerging medtech company's contribution to the space would come from its Emboliner Embolic Protection Catheter. 

The Emboliner is a cylindrical mesh filter that completely lines the aorta. The design allows the device to have more reliable positioning across the cerebral vessels and is simple to put in, the company said.

Recently, the small firm said it has raised $10 million in a Series B round to help get the technology to the market. The funding includes $3 million in new equity financing from multiple investors led by SV Tech Ventures and Shangbay Capital, and more than $7 million in conversion of previously-issued convertible notes.

“The purpose of the [Series B] round is to fund completion of our first human clinical study,” Scott Russell, president and CEO of Emboline, told MD+DI. “The data from that clinical study will be used to file for CE mark. We’re expecting the trial to be complete and the CE mark filing to be done at the end of this year. So, our hope is to launch commercially in Europe by the end of the year.”

Following the European launch, Emboline would then begin working with FDA to get the technology on the market.

Russell said Emboli’s founder, Amir Belson, MD, a serial medtech entrepreneur, has a unique method of raising  capital for companies.

“[Belson’s] model is to partner with a company that has internal engineering resources that can help do the initial feasibility development and proof-of-concept in exchange for equity,” Russell said. “Once it gets to that point you have something where a lot of the risks have been removed and the basic fundamental technology has been proven to work. Now you can go out and raise money to accelerate development. By skipping the traditional Series A round, which tends to be the most dilutive because there tends to be so much risk involved, you’re able to do the development more efficiently.”

The Embolization Protection Market

Claret Medical and Keystone Heart both have embolic protection devices on the market. However, Santa Rosa, CA-based Claret Medical is the only company to have both CE mark and an FDA nod for embolic protection technology aimed at TAVR.

Russell said Emboline has an advantage because the firm’s device is focused on capturing debris that could go into other parts of the body.

“Claret Medical and Keystone only provides protection for cerebral embolism,” Russell said. “These companies don’t provide protection for any non-cerebral debris. We believe the Emboliner solution is the next step in the evolution of Embolic protection and offers clear advantages over the existing technologies.”

Possible Acquisition Targets?

With the rise of TAVR and transcatheter mitral valve repair procedures, Embolization protection companies could become acquisition targets or natural  collaboration partners for larger strategics.

Irvine, CA-based Edwards Lifesciences, the recognized pioneer in TAVR, made its bid to expand its reach into the embolization protection market when it acquired Embrella Cardiovascular in 2011 for $43 million. The Wayne, PA-based company developed the Embrella Embolic Deflector System.

Russell did not discount the possibility of a larger company coming in and acquiring Emboline.  However, he said the primary focus is to build Emboline into a profitable business that can stand on its own. 

“We’re doing what we would do to make sure we have a viable business long-term and we believe we’ll have a very lucrative business long-term,” Russell said. “But we’re certainly always happy to have discussions with the appropriate partners.”

Could Virtual Training Reduce Use Errors and Improve Patient Outcomes?

Dr. Justin Barad, Founder and CEO of Osso VR
Dr. Justin Barad, Founder and CEO of Osso VR

Medical device companies “have had enough of people using their devices improperly—it leaves them open to lawsuits and recalls,” Dr. Justin Barad told BIOMEDevice Boston attendees during an April 18 Center Stage presentation.

Founder and CEO of Osso VR, Barad believes the solution lies in virtual training and education. “You can make a major impact in patient outcomes in how surgeons are trained,” he said.

A pediatric orthopaedic surgeon himself, Barad developed Osso VR, a virtual reality system for training surgeons. Osso VR is a “hands-on, reliable, interactive” system that allows “you to see at a granular level the technical ability of product users,” he told the audience. He will also be demonstrating the system at the upcoming Medtech Education Hub at MD&M East on June 14 at 2:00 pm in "OSSO VR Revolutionizes Surgical Training with Virtual Reality."

Today, what is lacking “is insight into the technical ability of our providers,” continued Barad. “Medical device companies have no idea whether their products are being used properly.” Consequently, companies could be liable, he said.

Improving patient outcomes is central to Osso’s mission, as are increasing adoption of higher-value medical technologies and democratizing access to education. Barad explained that hospitals and surgeons may continue to use existing technologies because surgeons don’t have the time and opportunity to train on the newer products.

There’s also a skills gap, “as residency programs are aware that residents go out into the world not ready,” Barad said. And there’s a fixed number of surgeons to serve an aging population. “It’s projected to be short by 50,000 surgeons by 2050,” he reported.

The company creates virtual training scenarios utilizing CAD files from medical device customers. “We create virtual ecosystems using their content,” he explains. “It's more efficient for surgeons to be able to practice on the actual device they’ll be using.” The system utilizes the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch handheld device.

The platform creates a virtual operating room that allows for collaborative training for the whole team, including surgical techs and nurses. Up to 10 staff can train in one module, regardless of where they are in the world. “A lot of people are involved for a successful surgical outcome,” he said, later telling MD+DI that “when your team doesn’t know how to use equipment, you’re not focused on the patient.” The system also allows for remote mentoring and coaching.

Staff can even train before procedures, he said, pointing to a pilot study of just-in-time training that showed a trend toward double the performance.

Currently focused on the orthopedic space, Osso offers 5 virtual procedures and is expected to be up to 8 to 10 by the end of the year. Barad also plans to expand into robotics and cardiology, particularly procedures involving the structural heart.

Barad also sees utility outside of the surgical arena, such as in the warehouses that stock surgical trays. “Rapidly filling trays is a critical issue, and we do see in the OR that trays are not maintained properly,” he said. Educating tray assembly staff could help them understand how to put instruments in trays as well as what the instruments do for a deeper appreciation of such work.

Barad said there’s been some debate over whether to use haptics in VR training systems. “It’s a hot area right now.” However, “research has shown that kinesthetic force feedback hasn’t improved skills transfer. Cutaneous haptics seem to be more effective in achieving the desired outcome.” He added that “the brain has a tremendous ability to fill in gaps.”

Barad expects that one day medical device companies will be able to create their own content for use with Osso VR, but the platform won’t be an open one in order to maintain “accurate, clinically effective content.” The company also ensures that good design practices are followed when building the virtual environments. For instance, “to eliminate nausea, you can’t dip below 90 frames per second,” he said.

Osso VR has been recognized as an EdSimChallenge Winner 2017, a Zimmer Biomet Innovation Award Winner 2018, IMSH 2018 Best-In-Show Runner Up, and GPU Tech Conference 2016 Innovation Award.

Barad spoke during the April 18 BIOMEDevice Boston Center Stage presentation and demo, “OSSO VR Revolutionizes Surgical Training with Virtual Reality.”

And don't miss the upcoming demo at the Medtech Education Hub at MD&M East on June 14 at 2:00 pm in "OSSO VR Revolutionizes Surgical Training with Virtual Reality."

To learn more, visit the Osso VR YouTube channel.

[Image courtesy of OSSO VR]

A booming economy and an already record-breaking NPE—what could possibly go wrong?

A booming economy and an already record-breaking NPE—what could possibly go wrong?

economic growth symbolic imageSince its inception in 1946, NPE has unfolded under all manner of economic cycles—the good, the bad and the meh. During a webinar on the state of the plastics industry near the end of last year, Perc Pineda, Chief Economist for the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS; Washington, DC), forecast a robust 2018 for the economy at large and the plastics industry specifically. Improving economic conditions and strong fundamentals domestically will result in a ninth straight year of expansion for the plastics industry, said Pineda. “I don’t see any headwinds in the next 12 months,” he added. In a rare instance of what has been called “global synchronous growth,” the international outlook appeared equally promising for 2018. Those forecasts came before President Trump made good on his campaign promise to get tough on trade, slapping tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and engaging in a (thus far, rhetorical) trade tiff with China. In light of these developments, and the NAFTA negotiations that seem to be stuck in neutral, I wondered if Pineda had any second thoughts. Not in the least, he told PlasticsToday. I also posed the question to folks in the industry. While all expressed some concerns, the consensus is that, ultimately, cooler heads will prevail and the economy, along with the plastics industry, will keep humming along.

“The latest economic data continue to reflect more visible signs of U.S. economic growth momentum,” Pineda recently told PlasticsToday. “The latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that in 2017, corporate spending increased $91.2 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $44 billion in 2016. Personal income increased $67.3 billion in February. The basis for investment spending on the business side and consumer spending on the household side are both strong,” said Pineda.

While the steel and aluminum tariffs have the potential to affect plastics machinery and molds, numerous exemptions have mitigated their impact. As for China, “long-standing concerns regarding intellectual property rights and China’s currency have put U.S. exports at a disadvantage, and should certainly be addressed,” said Pineda. How the trade spat will impact the U.S. plastics industry, however, is uncertain, he added.

“Considering that markets are dynamic and that demand and supply functions change, in addition to the fact that the long-run relationship between U.S. retail sales and U.S. plastics shipments remains stable, the underlying growth trend in the plastics industry this year remains positive,” said Pineda. “Any pushback the industry will experience because of tariffs remains to be seen, but will likely show up in the apparent consumption of plastics, which PLASTICS annually quantifies in its Global Trends Report.” The most recent report, which looks at 2016, can be downloaded from the PLASTICS website.

David Preusse, President of Wittmann Battenfeld (Torrington, CT), and Dwight Morgan, Vice President, Corporate Development at M. Holland Co. (Northbrook, IL), essentially share Pineda’s upbeat assessment of the U.S. plastics industry going into 2018, while acknowledging that some known unknowns, to borrow a phrase, could derail the global economy.

“None of us can know with certainty, but we feel a positive tail wind remains for our 2018 economic outlook,” Preusse told PlasticsToday. “Our quote levels and sales began strong and any taper is a short reward to knock down our impressive backlog across our three product sectors of robots, molding machines and material handling/auxiliaries.”

I’m sure the weaker U.S. dollar, trade policies and conflicts, the constant media attacks on the White House as a reality show gone bad, and now privacy laws activity will stir up some market swings or profit margins, but we’re just not ready to offer any negative outlook yet,” said Preusse. “We’re still upbeat, [and the] NPE Show will add more positive buzz.”

Similarly, Morgan acknowledges that “Washington’s recent protectionist maneuvers present an element of uncertainty for many industrial sectors, including plastics, one of the few goods where we have a sizeable trade surplus.” Ultimately, Morgan believes that market forces will prevail in the global economy. “The U.S. plastics industry is among the most competitive in the world. We are optimistic about the outlook for our industry, regardless of the near-term politics.”

Mark Bonifacio, President of Bonifacio Consulting Services in Boston, MA, cautions that tariffs have the potential to be a “slippery slope.” They should be applied with “surgical precision rather than in a carpet-bombing approach,” Bonifacio told PlasticsToday.

Trade imbalances exist and intellectual property protection should be dealt with, he acknowledged, but these issues need to be addressed at the “bargaining table with people who have direct knowledge of the nuances of global commerce and the respective markets. Many executives of U.S. corporations, especially in plastics and automotive, will tell you that many of the trade agreements have benefited their companies in various ways,” added Bonifacio.

Bonifacio Consulting Services advises on mergers & acquisitions, manufacturing and executive recruitment primarily for the medical technology sector.

The other known unknown that could have a profound impact on the domestic plastics industry is the outcome of the NAFTA negotiations. If they were to go south, if you’ll pardon the expression, it would be severely disruptive.

“The U.S. plastics industry has its largest trade surplus with Mexico—$10.7 billion in 2016 (our most recent data),” noted Pineda. “While there’s no doubt that NAFTA needs some tweaking to account for changes in the economic environment, a total revamp of the whole agreement has created market anxieties surrounding an agreement that has had a net positive effect on the U.S. plastics industry,” said Pineda.

The takeaway of all this, to my mind is that, barring any impetuous decisions from the White House—like that could happen—or elsewhere, 2018 has the makings of a very good year, indeed, for the economy and NPE. Well before the show even opens its doors, we received one sure sign that this could be a banner year: With 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space booked, NPE2018 is the largest NPE show in history.

See you there!

If you haven’t yet read the articles by industry veterans Clare Goldsberry and Allan Griff reflecting on NPEs past, do yourself a favor and check them out now:

NPE's origin story, promoting and defending plastics 

Reflections on NPEs past and present: From the Chicago Stockyards to talking mice

 

NPE: Yizumi-HPM to launch three new series of injection molding machines at NPE

NPE: Yizumi-HPM to launch three new series of injection molding machines at NPE

Yizumi-HPM Corp., a unit of China’s Yizumi Group and a leading manufacturer of high-quality hybrid injection molding machinery from 60 to 3500-tons clamping force, will announce the launch of three new series of injection molding machines at NPE 2018 May 7-11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (Booth #West 3343). The DP-N series two-platen servo hydraulic, A5-N series toggle servo hydraulic, and the FE-N series full servo are all built to North American design criteria and standards and make use of KEBA touch-screen control systems throughout the machine line. The N designation indicates the series is developed and configured for the North American market.

US-built two-platen servo hydraulic injection molding machines from China’s Yizumi to debut at NPE in Orlando.

Yizumi-HPM’s three new series are based on HPM designs but utilize the engineering, manufacturing, and financial strengths of Yizumi, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of injection molding machines, according to Bill Duff, General Manager, Sales and Marketing for Yizumi-HPM. “We’ve re-emerged stronger and better from our HPM roots and we’re excited about the momentum we’ve generated in the market,” said Duff. “We believe we’re uniquely positioned to offer the market high-quality technical injection machines that deliver high performance at an affordable cost.”

Yizumi-HPM has introduced the DP-N series two-platen servo hydraulic model UN1200DP-N-12050 (1200 US tons, 240-oz shot size). At NPE 2018, this machine will run a special MuCell FoamPro technology, which Yizumi developed with Wilmington, Mass.-based Trexel Inc., the developer of the MuCell foaming process. FoamPro is a “rapid heat, rapid cool” process that creates textured finishes, reducing part weight by up to 20% and required clamping forces by up to 50%. 

Yizumi-HPM will demonstrate FoamPro technology with a single-cavity aluminum mold on a UN1200DP-N-12050 two-platen injection press, producing an 880-gram PP briefcase in a 49-sec cycle. The DP-N series boasts a box-shape platen that is designed for high rigidity and high parallelism. Mold closing and opening are controlled by a high-response servo valve with mold-open repeatability up to ±0.1mm. The DP-N series is offered from 550 tons to 3500 tons with a modular design that allows multiple molding solutions. 

Yizumi-HPM will also launch the A5-N series toggle servo hydraulic model UN360DP-N (360 US tons, 34 oz). This machine will manufacture a 2.5 gallon (9.5-l) HDPE pail, utilizing the company’s exclusive Double-Wave barrier screw technology for rapid recovery and excellent melt quality. Key features includes a highly rigid clamping unit and extended ejector guiding platen design, along with an optimized injection structure design for reduced frictional resistance and enhanced precision. Yizumi’s third-generation energy-saving servo technology is stable, reliable, and durable. It is characterized by high efficiency, energy savings, low noise, strong power, and fast response. The A5-N series is offered from 65 tons to 1125 tons with numerous available options and technologies.

The company will also offer the FE-N series full-servo electric model FE-N-60 (60 US tons 2 oz). This is a new fully electric machine designed for the North American market and is available from 65 to 290 tons clamping force. The machine features an optimized injection unit structure, servo motor customization, and a special lubrication system. The FE-N series is configurable to different sizes with high-speed recovery and fill up to 500 mm/sec. At NPE, the machine will run a small medical part.

 

US-built in HPM  DP-N

 

 

 

 

BASF, Essentium team up to bring to market strongest 3D-printed prosthetic device

BASF, Essentium team up to bring to market strongest 3D-printed prosthetic device

BASF, Essentium prosthetic leg

A 3D-printed customizable, lightweight definitive prosthetic socket that improves patient comfort and can be manufactured faster than conventional devices has been developed in a partnership between BASF (Florham Park, NJ) and 3D-printing and materials development company Essentium (College Station, TX). The prosthetic is printed using BASF’s Ultramid polyamide reinforced with short carbon fiber and is manufactured by Essentium subsidiary TriFusion Devices.

Described as the strongest 3D-printed thermoplastic carbon-fiber definitive prosthetic socket on the market, the device enables adjustments to be made in 2- to 3-mm increments without compromising its strength as needed throughout the life cycle of the prosthetic. Traditional sockets do not easily accommodate modifications, said BASF, and this feature considerably enhances patient comfort.

To ensure the sockets meet clinician and patient expectations, BASF and Essentium enlisted Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics, a clinic based in Detroit, MI, as a validation partner. Anew Life owner and clinician Chris Casteel, a past manufacturing professional and amputee, worked with patients to test the sockets and provide real-time feedback on improvements that could be made to the 3D-printing process and material selection. According to Casteel, patients said the test sockets fit like a glove and were overall more comfortable than other products.

By leveraging 3D printing, the companies also were able to accelerate the production process. A traditional carbon-fiber socket typically takes a technician three days to mold and cast, said BASF. By contrast, a 3D-printed socket can go from scan to ship in less than 24 hours. This allows for efficient order fulfillment, increased patient interface and profitability for clinicians. It also eliminates human error, as the scan ensures the socket fit is close to correct the first time.

Although development of 3D-printed prosthetic devices is not yet regulated by FDA, Essentium and BASF chose to follow the strict standards outlined in the agency’s guidelines for additive manufacturing published in December 2017. Each part of the 30-step manufacturing process is documented, and the devices are hand inspected before being shipped to clinicians.

The companies are also actively pursuing the production of a multi-material 3D-printed prosthetic with rigid and flexible TPU elements. The hard-soft socket would allow clinicians to implement soft material into the design for increased comfort on sensitive areas. It is expected to launch later this year.

The 3D printed prosthetic leg, with the carbon-fiber definitive socket and foot, will be on display at NPE2018 at the BASF booth (S15023).

Essentium is the developer of FlashFuse technology, which it claims can produce 3D-printed parts that match the strength of injection molded products. It also provides a line of 3D-printing materials. Prosthetics and orthotics company TriFusion was acquired by Essentium in February 2017.

Unlocking the Potential of AI For Fatty Liver Treatments

Qimona/Pixabay Unlocking the Potential of AI For Fatty Liver Treatments

ReviveMed, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinout, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to unlock the power of metabolomics to discover new therapies to treat diseases. Metabolomics is the large-scale study of small molecules like glucose or cholesterol produced by cellular activity. ReviveMed’s platform could help pharmaceutical companies redesign existing drugs or develop new drugs to help patients suffering from disease.

The Cambridge, MA-based company recently raised funding to help further develop its AI solution, closing an oversubscribed seed round of $1.5 million. Rivas Capital led the round, which also included participation from several institutional investors including TechU, Team Builder Ventures, and WorldQuant Ventures. The funding will go toward obtaining additional metabolomics data for patients.

“If you want genomic sequencing or RNA data, there are lots of databases available,” Leila Pirhaji, founder and CEO of ReviveMed, told MD+DI. “However, that’s not the case for metabolomics data. We’re actually spending some of our funding [from the seed round] to collect data from patients and controls.”

Pirhaji, who formed ReviveMed while in in the midst of obtaining her PhD, said the company will first target non-alcohol fatty liver disease, which currently impacts more than 30% of people in the U.S. and 10% of those in the U.K. If left untreated, the disease can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. The prevalence of non-alcohol fatty liver disease is expected to increase, driven by rising levels of obesity and representing a significant area of unmet need in global healthcare.

Pirhaji said fatty liver disease “was a good fit” for ReviveMed. She added that the MIT spinout would eventually focus on other metabolic diseases.

Riding the AI Wave

ReviveMed is one of a growing number of companies embracing artificial intelligence to make an impact in healthcare. Through the use of algorithms and machine learning firms in healthcare are able to cut through the haze of big data and come up with meaningful solutions.

Key ways AI is used in healthcare  is pairing it with structured exercises in reading patient data and medical images to train machines to detect abnormalities. Algorithms are also being used to sift through vast amounts of medical literature to inform treatment decisions where it would be too onerous a task to have a human read through the same journals.

“I can see that the industry has changed since working to build my company,” Pirhaji said. “It’s definitely a good time to be a part of this movement and part of this exciting new era.”