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Engel gets clinical about medical molding

Injection molding machinery manufacturer Engel North America continued its tradition of technical symposia, hosting...


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June 23, 2008 by Canadian Plastics

Injection molding machinery manufacturer Engel North America continued its tradition of technical symposia, hosting two days of presentation on the medical injection molding market at its technical centre in York, Penn. last week.

The event drew a full slate of presenters and a full house of molders, covering a range of pertaining to those who want to do business in the medical sector. The event appealed to novices and established medical molders alike, with presentations on everything from the ABCs of cleanroom molding, to the advanced processing technologies available for sophisticated medical applications.

According to Engel North America’s president and CEO Steve Braig, the medical parts and devices represents a growth opportunity for traditional injection molders.

“We do see a significant amount of contract manufacturers who have primarily been in the automotive and some consumer industries looking at the medical industry in diversifying their portfolio of customers,” he said in an interview with Canadian Plastics. It is our hope, by putting on a symposium like this, to provide potential entries into the field with the technical information they would need.

Engel’s previous symposia have focused on areas like packaging, but Braig noted that medical molders have a unique set of needs. For one, medical manufacturers have to live up to stringent regulatory standards. And medical OEMs put a significant amount of emphasis on quality requirements and standards.

For its part, the machinery manufacturer believes that it is well-equipped to serve those who enter the market. The exhibition area at the symposium featured a cleanroom certifiable machine, with all of the hydraulics encapsulated. The company also sees liquid silicone rubber (LSR) making great strides in the medical sector, and Engel manufactures equipment specifically for LSR.

Additionally, Engel used the event to introduce its all-electric e-max machine, with an e-max 100 in operation and on display on the second day of the conference. But the e-max machines aren’t the first all-electrics on the market by any means, and Engel attributes its late entry to its customer base.

“Our engineering is primarily European-driven and as such most European molders are injection purists, they haven’t taken the all-electric machine concept as seriously as some of our predominantly Asian competitors,” noted Braig. “In all actuality, from a pure processing standpoint, all-electric molding machines don’t really offer anything that a hydraulic machine could not do better.”

However, Braig notes that recent gains in energy prices — and requirements for industries like medical, where hydraulics are not optimal for cleanroom environments — have made the technology more vital in today’s manufacturing climate.

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