Custom plastic injection molder PTA Plastics recently announced that it has invested more than $2 million in capital equipment and real estate to meet demand from existing and prospective customers in the medical sector.
The company added four new Wittmann Battenfeld injection molding machines and two new Engel presses at its plants in Longmont, CO, and Oxford, CT. The Colorado location adds to the roster a 100-ton, 130-ton self-contained Class 7 cleanroom, and a replacement 1,235-ton, creating a total of 20 presses. The Connecticut location adds 55-ton, 180-ton, and 730-ton presses to the factory floor for a total of 19 machines. Additional warehouse space was acquired at both facilities for the new equipment.
The investment comes at a time when the global medical device market is expected to rebound significantly after a slight COVID-induced dip. The sector is projected to decline by a little more than 3% in 2020 primarily because of lockdowns, according to a report from London-based Business Research Co. The business intelligence firm reports that the market is expected to decline from $456.9 billion in 2019 to $442.5 billion in 2020. “The medical device market is expected to recover and grow at a CAGR of 6.1% from 2021 and reach $603.5 billion in 2023,” it said. North America accounts for about 39%, the largest share in the global market.
Industry 4.0 technology a critical element.
Compatibility with Industry 4.0 technology was a critical element in sourcing the new presses, said PTA Plastics. “Assuring that all presses are equipped with Industry 4.0 technology designed to leverage machine learning and AI will revolutionize PTA’s manufacturing operations," said Rich Dorans, President of PTA Plastics. “The manufacturing floor advancements at both facilities support our strategic plan to achieve a productive smart factory moving forward. The new 130-ton press will take center stage in our new Class 7 cleanroom, helping us achieve our growth goals including the highly anticipated strategic reshoring,” Dorans added. PlasticsToday asked Dorans for more information about the company’s plans regarding reshoring but he declined to elaborate.
|PTA Plastics installed a new 130-ton injection molding machine and self-contained Class 7 cleanroom at its facility in Longmont, CO.|
In addition to the new injection molding machines, PTA Plastics-Connecticut purchased new finishing equipment including a high tonnage thermal machine for brass inserts and a self-contained, fully automated multicolored pad print.
“Investing in a forward looking manufacturing model requires innovation and a commitment to a plan,” commented Kent Seeley, General Manager of PTA Plastics. “By assembling smart manufacturing technologies and upskilling our workforce for the future, we are prepared to deliver manufacturing solutions for today and tomorrow’s industries,” said Seeley.
“The pandemic accelerated our PTA 2030 initiative of creating smart manufacturing [operations] using Industry 4.0 technologies,” said Dorans. The company has described PTA 2030-Envision the Future—as a program that emphasizes where the industry and the market are headed and determines what the company will have to look like to continue to thrive. This approach also satisfied a more immediate need, as safety precautions taken to stem the spread of COVID-19 required remote training on the new machines. “PTA Plastics implemented creative solutions for low-touch and spacing requirements during the training,” said the company in a press release. “The power of the 4.0 technology allows for full connectivity back to the headquarters of Wittmann Battenfeld and Engel to achieve optimum instruction.”
Like many plastics processors, PTA Plastics must cope with a skilled labor shortage, which is especially critical when dealing with “smart factory” technology. Dorans told PlasticsToday that his company works closely and partners with the Colorado and Connecticut school systems as well as technical schools to nurture talent.
Employee-owned PTA Plastics has been MedAccred certified since August 2019. MedAccred is a medtech-industry-managed program that provides supply chain oversight via standardized audit criteria. PTA Plastics is one of a handful of injection molding companies to receive the accreditation.