AMT launches expansion as medical business grows
Advanced Molding Technologies (AMT) is now expanding its factory floor space in a Minneapolis suburb from 35,000 sq ft to just under 50,000 sq ft and adding 12 injection molding machines over the next 24 months.
“We’re growing. Business is strong,” Steve Jenkins, business development manager said in an interview with PlasticsToday. Two-thirds of the company’s business is in medical. All of the new presses are electric. AMT is announcing a rebranding at the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) conference and exposition this week in Minneapolis. Included in the effort are a new logo, tradeshow booth and a website redesign.
Factors driving growth include a deep engineering bench in solving health issues related to plastics: bisphenol A (BPA) and animal derivatives. “There’s a move away from polycarbonate in some medical devices because of concerns about BPA,” Jenkins said. AMT is molding blood oxygenator parts in Tritan copolyester that had been previously molded in PC. Eastman Chemical announced at MD&M West earlier this year that it was launching Tritan copolyester for blood therapy surgical and blood management devices.
Eastman said that Tritan copolyester has good clarity, chemical resistance, processability, and eliminates annealing that is required for polycarbonate. Jenkins told PlasticsToday that using existing polycarbonate molds for Tritan can be tricky, however. He said that AMT has applied special engineering technology, particularly in the cooling phase to avoid additional tooling costs.
Jenkins also said that AMT is one of three molders in North America that has an Animal Derived Component Free (ADCF) cleanroom. The trend emerged to ACDF in recent years due to concerns about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. Some release agents historially used bone tallow as a lubricating material. Several resin producers now offer grades of plastics that are “animal free”. The ADCF cell also requires that the resin and molded component do not come in contact with any non-ADCF plastic items such as bags, hoses, and tubs. Prior to development of the ADCF manufacturing cell, it was necessary to wash purchased molded components prior to use in downstream processes. Some OEM designs now specify a “no wash” requirement.
In an example of innovation outside of the medical market, AMT developed a highly automated assembly system to keep a project in the United States. “It had cost us $1 to produce each assembled part. The China price was 15 cents per part. Now we can do it for 5 cents per part,” said Jenkins. At the heart of the system is a 14-station turntable completely assembling four molded components every four seconds. The system was designed by an engineering team at AMT and built by North Anoko Control Systems (NACS) in Ham Lake, MN. Advanced Molding Technologies was founded in 1999 by Brett Nelson, who is owner and resident. Currently, the company operates 26 injection molding machines ranging in clamping force from 20 to 500 tons. Toshiba is AMT’s preferred supplier.