(From the May 30, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
PASO ROBLES, Calif.—Specialty Silicone Fabricators Inc. is making major advances on the technology end of its business while it expands and consolidates its Paso Robles operation.
The manufacturer of custom silicone components and parts for the medical device industry will open a 120,000-sq.-ft. plant and headquarters in the city in November. The site practically will double Specialty Silicone's present space and replace three buildings, which together span about 68,000 square feet, on its current campus.
While it goes through that process, the company also is adding to its product capabilities via a collaborative pact it recently agreed to with Momentive Performance Materials Inc., the Albany, N.Y.-headquartered producer of silicone and specialty chemicals.
The two firms are developing products to be used by medical device manufacturers, focusing on the growing market of combination devices with active pharmaceutical ingredients.
The new Paso Robles facility will bring together all departments spread out between SSF's current three-building set-up, according to Frank East, the company's marketing manager.
One of the plants was razed and replaced by the sprawling new facility, in which three or four sizable clean rooms are being added for medical component production.
“We've been running between three different buildings on our campus,” he said. “The new building will be much more efficient.”
The company probably will hang on to the old buildings that remain after the SSF work force settles into the new complex later this year, he said, and perhaps lease or sell the facilities down the line. That decision hasn't been made nor has the company—which also operates plants in Tustin, Calif., and Elk Rapids, Mich.—determined as yet whether or not it will need new machinery at the site.
The expansion into one large complex, while not spurred by the mid-May announcement that it was collaborating with Momentive on product development, certainly will help SSF as the two companies branch out with Momentive's advanced silicone elastomer technology and SSF's expertise in silicone extrusion and medical device assembly.
“We are working across the enterprise to collaborate wherever it makes sense, particularly in the technology and commercial areas where there is potential for new product development and value creation for us and for our customers,” a Momentive spokeswoman said.
Using Momentive's advanced ultraviolet elastomer cure technology, which typically offers fast cure of specialized silicone products at room temperature, SSF has performed tests on products which seem promising, according to East.
“This is in the very early stages,” he said. SSF already has produced some drains in collaboration with Momentive, “and they've come out excellent.”
The trials principally optimize the UV curing extrusion process, said Lynn Colucci-Mizenko, Momentive's global marketing director. The successful tests have confirmed Momentive's expectations of its product.
“Silicone is an ideal matrix material to consider for a wide range of health care applications, and our UV cure technology will enable manufacturers to consider a much broader range of ingredients in their silicone mixtures,” she said.
The new UV technology can provide a number of other benefits, Momentive said, including production output with high purity and low levels of extractables.
The deal with SSF gives Momentive an expanded range of technologies and products, the company spokeswoman said, and provides a “powerful global footprint, where we now have more than 100 locations strategically placed to serve virtually all world markets.”
She said there are cost savings associated with the combination, estimated at about $100 million that can be attained over the next 18-24 months.