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Supplier Stories for the Week of April 14

Here’s what was new in the world of medical device suppliers during the week of April 14.

  • PTI Engineered Plastics recently hosted Michigan Senator Michael MacDonald on a tour of the company's facility and discussed the future of manufacturing. The company is working to "dispel the misconception generally held by younger generations that careers in manufacturing are low-wage, low-skilled jobs that are performed in dirty factories," according to a news release. PTI Engineered Plastics custom injection molds and manufactures plastic components and assemblies, with a specialty in low-volume production.

    The "fourth industrial revolution," also referred to as "Industry 4.0," was discussed during the tour, as PTI highlighted a new area under development in the plant that will soon hold its “smart” machines. These machines will collaborate with each other, the workers, and in-time, the customer, via interconnected software, PTI reported, adding that this will raise efficiencies by reducing downtime, waste, and wait times for customers. PTI also demonstrated some of the latest machine technology and explained how that technology is helping them accelerate its processes.

    PTI also discussed the manufacturing talent shortage in the industry and the steps it is taking to address it. For instance, the company founded the PTI Technical Academy in 2014 to introduce manufacturing fundamentals to today’s youth and provide hands-on experience to high school students. Students are able to engage in part design, mold design, mold build, mold maintenance, CNC machining, EDM, process engineering, and process automation. This program is free to students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. 

    [Image courtesy of PTI ENGINEERED PLASTICS INC.]

    Editor's Note: If you have news you’d like to submit for potential inclusion in future weekly roundups, please send a press release and any related images to [email protected] with the subject line “Supplier Stories.”

  • Bridgeport Magnetics Group reports that all ISO-PUCK models of medical-grade transformers are now potted inside polycarbonate enclosures, from 200 VA to 3000 VA, 60 Hz or 50/60 Hz., and cord lengths 2 – 20 feet. Its new portable 1200 VA ISO-PUCK TOWER, shown above, contains a hospital-grade power strip. The ISO-PUCK itself may also be mounted on a wall or on a cart where leakage current from computers, printers, or medical devices may exceed the maximum allowed value in operating rooms and patient care areas caused by frayed and aging insulation.

    For a wet location such as an operating room, installation of an isolation transformer such as the ISO-PUCK instead of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) could avoid interruption of power during surgery, the company reported in a news release. It suggested that medical device manufacturers could speed up the process of certifying their products by making the ISO-PUCK an integral part of the device.

    For U.S. and Canadian applications, the enclosed transformers are available with NEMA 5 plugs for 15 A or 20 A. For other markets, appropriate plugs are available. A wide choice of receptacles are available besides the NEMA series including IEC connectors and hospital-grade power strips. The standard cord length is 2 feet (30 cm) and also available in longer lengths. For instance, the new portable ISO-PUCK TOWER is equipped with a medical-grade four- or six-outlet power strip and a 20-foot cord with NEMA plug to allow the tower to be moved inside the room.

    [Image courtesy of BRIDGEPORT MAGNETICS GROUP]

    Editor's Note: If you have news you’d like to submit for potential inclusion in future weekly roundups, please send a press release and any related images to [email protected] with the subject line “Supplier Stories.”

  • Moldworx LLC, a custom designer and builder of molds, automation solutions, and custom molding, has automated the production of hypodermic needles using the overmolding process to reduce costs and improve productivity. The company was asked by a medical OEM to develop a single-cavity injection mold to overmold a needle that is currently being glued in place. Moldworx designed and built molds to inject medical-grade plastic around stainless-steel needles as small as 0.012 in. (0.305 mm) and handled the automation for this project.

    The first stage involved designing and developing an A-Series, single-cavity injection mold with slides, with the needle being hand-loaded into the mold by an operator then molded to a finished assembly to test the design, Moldworx reported in a news release. “This allowed us to overmold the needle eliminating a step in the current manufacturing process and reduce overall production time and cost,” stated Moldworx President Jim Taylor in the release. “We encountered some unique issues in the process, including the additional challenge of making this all possible in a horizontal press, not a typical vertical press.”

    The next stage was designing a production mold and automation that would robotically feed the needles into the mold cavity. “We designed the mold to integrate with the automation and the automation to work in unison with the mold,” explained Taylor. “In an effort to accelerate the timeline, the entire automation cell was built in parallel with the mold.”

    Moldworx was able to singulate thousands of delicate, tiny needles that are bulk-packed by developing a "singulator” with a hopper that introduces one needle at a time to the assembly line cell. Each needle is picked up with a robot affixed to the injection molding machine and indexed in front of a set of high-resolution inspection cameras to ensure it was not bent or the needle tip was not damaged, which would cause the needle to be rejected. The needle is then placed into the mold, and the mold closes for the injection cycle. When the mold opens, the robot removes the molded assembly and places a newly inspected needle into the mold. Moldworx maintains exact tolerances throughout the process, and the motors and controls used in the automated cells ensure precision. 

    After customer testing and approval, Moldworx built a multi-cavity mold with the required integrated automation cells. The 4-cavity production mold will quadruple the automation cell production to keep up with required demand. 

    “This is a prime example of the benefits of working with Moldworx,” stated Taylor. “We partner with our clients to deliver innovative, automated plastic injection molding manufacturing solutions.”

    [Image courtesy of MOLDWORX] 

    Editor's Note: If you have news you’d like to submit for potential inclusion in future weekly roundups, please send a press release and any related images to [email protected] with the subject line “Supplier Stories.”

  • Minerva Group, a partner for the Aras Innovator Enterprise Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) software, is expanding operations in North America. The company reports an increase in the demand for its Medical Device PLM solution on the North American market. Medical Device PLM is a dedicated PLM solution for medical device companies from Minerva built on top of the Aras Innovator PLM solution. Medical Device PLM offers industry-specific functionalities for medical device companies on a subscription model with no complicated PLM licenses, the company reported in a news release.

    “With Medical Device PLM, we provide our customers with a solution that drastically improves the way they manage their product data and the traceability between data and process. With Medical Device PLM, our customers get a solution that out of the box that supports automatic creation of DHF/DMR, automatic baselining of data, risk management, traceability matrix, just to mention a few key areas,” stated Thomas Skogen, product director at Minerva Group.

    Added Asger Thierry, founder and CEO of Minerva Group: ”The demand for digitalizing the complex processes inside medical device companies has been very strong in North America, especially in the U.S. region wherefore we are pleased to increase our investment in the region. Medical device companies throughout the region recognize the domain knowledge and value of the Minerva Medical Device platform and the business model. Our customers are able to significantly reduce the risk and cost of optimizing the processes while enjoying industry-specific features and a competent partnership with their provider.”

    [Logo courtesy of MINERVA GROUP] 

    Editor's Note: If you have news you’d like to submit for potential inclusion in future weekly roundups, please send a press release and any related images to [email protected] with the subject line “Supplier Stories.”

  • Jouhsen-Bündgens has redesigned its PrecisionGrind PG6 needle grinding machine, which is used for finishing needle points. The new design features a new saddle close to the grind stone that allows the machine to now also process short blanks in the required length. Workpieces no longer have to be cut to length after grinding. As a result, this further optimizes the entire production process, the company reported in a news release.

    “The new saddle now also makes it possible to process shorter blanks, as the parts can be positioned more accurately as they are fed in,” explained Jouhsen-Bündgens CEO Dr. Peter Renz in the release.

    Thanks to a transport wheel that separates the blanks from the magazine and precisely positions them axially, the machine can reach process speeds of up to 600 parts per minute in a continuous grinding process. The blanks are transferred to the transport unit before being conveyed precisely along the grind stone. By processing the blanks directly in the required length, the machine removes the need to cut the workpieces to length after grinding. “This accelerates the whole process and reduces error rates,” stated Renz.

    [Image courtesy of JOUHSEN-BÜNDGENS MASCHINENBAU GMBH]

    Editor's Note: If you have news you’d like to submit for potential inclusion in future weekly roundups, please send a press release and any related images to [email protected] with the subject line “Supplier Stories.”

Daphne Allen

Daphne Allen is editor-in-chief of MD+DI. She previously served as executive editor of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News, which serves as the pharmaceutical and medical device channel of Packaging Digest. Daphne has covered medical device manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and regulatory issues as well as pharmaceutical packaging and labeling for more than 20 years. She is also a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals's Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee. Follow her on Twitter at @daphneallen.

 

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