End Markets Processes

Medical Musings: Make plans now for MD&M West and NPE2012

If you have money left in your 2011 T&E budget, I suggest buying tickets now to fly to two first-rate shows and conferences in 2012 for medical designers and processors.

First up is Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West being held Feb. 13-16 in Anaheim, CA. Owned by the same company that publishes this Web site, MD&M has spawned many regional shows around the USA, but for my money, the Anaheim show remains the most interesting.

It was the original major medical device event, and I think has grown tremendously because of the quality of its conference in particular. For many years, speakers from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) offered nuts and bolts ideas on how to work through  ever-changing regulatory minefields. Christy Foreman, director of the FDA’s Office of Device Evaluation, will open the conference Monday, Feb. 13 with a talk on “Meeting FDA’s Expectations for High-Quality Submissions”.

Also adding value to the conferences in recent years has been a partnership with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), whose medical division sponsors one of the tracks. A speaker this coming year is one of my favorites from the SPE: Len Czuba, longtime device designer and former SPE president, who will speak on “The Challenges of Choosing the Right Polymeric Material for Today’s Medical Devices”.  And believe it or not, Len can cover that subject quite capably in about 30 minutes.

The triennial National Plastics Exposition comes up in 2012-this time in a different time slot and in a different location. NPE2012 will be held April 1-5 in Orlando, FL. Long held at McCormick Place in Chicago in June, the NPE moved to Orlando to escape high costs for exhibitors and attendees.

And also in what strikes me as  a first, a press release was distributed today announcing a focus on “innovative polymer technologies to advance the medical device industry.”

John Effmann of ENTEK Manufacturing Inc, who is chairman of NPE2012, comments: “NPE2012 will provide medical manufacturers with opportunities to examine new extrusion, molding, and thermoforming systems in actual operation.

At the same time, there will be many exhibitors introducing regulation-compliant grades of the raw materials in demand for medical devices, such as PVC, TPEs, silicones, polypropylene, engineering resins, optically clear plastics, and bioplastics. Other exhibitors with strong ties to the medical market will include moldmakers, custom molders, developers of design software, and suppliers of assembly, decorating, and packaging systems.”

NPE is, of course, a general plastics industry event, but a focus on medical makes sense given the significant investment taking place across North America because of strong demand from the medical market.

Importantly, the SPE’s annual technical conference (ANTEC) will be co-located at NPE again this time around. There will be multiple session on medical, covering such subjects as elastomers,  vinyl, micro-molding, and other technologies widely employed in medical manufacturing.

From a strictly plastics viewpoint, ANTEC is the number one conference on emerging medical technology. And as Effmann noted, it is the best place to see plastics equipment actually operating. This is by far  the best plastics show in the Western Hemisphere and it’s only held every three years.

If you’re part of the booming design and manufacturing base serving the medical industry, visits to MD&M West and NPE 2012 are strongly recommended. Probably necessary in fact.

Source : www.plasticstoday.com

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