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Plastics Today, September 2015

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Medical Technology 26 global PlasTics RePoRT 2015 PlasTicsToday.coM Making it in medical molding Outsourcing to the medical technology industry is growing at double digits. That's good news for contract molders . . . if they can meet the rigorous demands of OEMs. norbert sparrow S o, you want to be a medical mold- er? It's easy to see why. The $380 billion global medical technology industry has its ups and downs like any other sector, but more often than not, it generates steady growth. In fact, the medtech sector was upgraded by rat- ing agency Moody's from "stable" to "positive" in August 2015, with 4 to 5% growth forecast for the next 12 to 18 months. Outsourcing to the medtech indus- try, which includes molding and plas- tics processing, is projected to grow at almost 12% through 2018, according to some industry analysts. And the medical polymers market is expected to expand at an 8.4% compound annual growth rate through 2020, achieving a value of $9.69 billion, according to Grand View Research. Because of the dictates of quality manufacturing and regulatory require- ments, medical device OEMs are less likely than other manufacturers to go hunting for deals—they are, by and large, loyal to their supply chain. And continuing demand for single-use devices makes metal replacement a hot topic within industry, a tremendous opportu- nity for materials innovators and provid- ers of plastics processing services. It's an attractive industry, but the barriers to entry for vendors can be sig- nificant. We asked several contract mold- ers who have a track record of working with medical device OEMs what their customers are looking for in a molding partner. Here is what they told us. Prioritize in-house engineering talent A broad and deep skill set that encom- passes product development, design for manufacturing, validation and repeatabil- ity, among other qualities, are prerequi- sites for contract molders, says Timothy Reis, Vice President, Healthcare Business Development, at GW Plastics (Bethel, VT). It all comes down to keeping the customer satisfied. "You need to be able to show a consistent ability to produce components that meet customer require- ments," says Reiss. A pool of engineering expertise is a critical in-house resource if you want to effectively go after business in the medical space, agrees Bob Welch, Chief Technology Officer at Phillips-Medisize (Hudson, WI). "Engineering strength is needed not just in new product development, but in sustaining roles," says Welch. "As we have grown as a company, the number of engineering disciplines has grown accordingly. I have been leading engineering since 2005," adds Welch, "and we have added at least six engineering specializations during that time, including a growing base of validation engineers." The $650 million company with manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, China and Europe, cur- rently employs more than 450 engineers in preproduction, said Phillips-Medisize President and CEO Matt Jennings at a recent press conference. "You need to have professionals in quality management, people who can process validation and design changes," says John Witkowski, General Manager at Nypro (Clinton, MA). "You need to invest in technologies like robotics and in people who have expertise within those fields." And those engineering resources need to be effectively managed, says Welch, especially in a company the size of Phil- lips-Medisize with facilities spread across the globe. "You need strong program management systems that coordinate all engineering efforts—a strong command and control structure and robust chan- nels of communication with the cus- tomer," says Welch. "We produce nearly Phillips-Medisize produces nearly 150 million insulin pens annually in its Finland facility.

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