TOREKOV, Sweden—Nolato Group is adding liquid silicone injection molding capability at its plant in Baldwin, Wis., giving the firm's Nolato Medical unit its first U.S. capacity for the technology.
The firm is investing an undisclosed amount to add a third clean room at the site, a Class 7 clean room that will accommodate the new LIM machines. The clean room and first press is expected to be operational this spring, the company said.
Torekov-based Nolato Medical is transferring the technology from its headquarters in Sweden. Some U.S. personnel were brought to Europe to train, while other Nolato employees were sent to Baldwin to help with the transfer, said Nolato Medical President Christer Wahlquist.
Nolato has more than 30 years of liquid silicone and thermoplastic injection molding experience for implantable and non-implantable medical components. The company also said it boasts exper¼tise in over-molding silicone to thermoplastic components. It operates its own research and development facilities; makes products using injection molding, extrusion, dipping and injection blow molding; and uses plastics, thermoplastic elastomers, silicone rubber and rubber latex.
The Swedish firm acquired the Baldwin factory in 2010 when it purchased Contour Plastics Inc., now renamed Nolato Contour. Wahlquist said the purchase was made because Nolato had been expanding its medical business and felt the need to have manufacturing on different continents. With its historical roots in Europe, it had put a medical facility in China about two to three years a-go.
Nolato considered setting up a greenfield plant in the U.S. but eventually decided to buy Contour. “We thought this would be a good place to start,” Wahlquist said.
Contour Plastics did only plastics manufacturing along with some assembly work, but a building expansion in the past several years left plenty of room to add the silicone LIM capacity.
Nolato has a lot of experience with silicone molding in Europe and has been servicing some customers in the U.S. from its European operations. “We feel to be better supporters to U.S. customers, we needed something closer,” he said.
The clean room will have space for seven LIM machines, he added, but Nolato initially will put just one in production. LIM is a growing part of the firm's medical business, though Wahlquist wouldn't give sales or growth figures. The new production will make a variety of custom silicone components for medical applications; it does not offer any standard components for sale.
Future equipment purchases are dependent on sales growth. “When things go well, we will make the decision to add more machinery,” he said. “Our ambition will be to fill (the clean room) up and expand from there.”