When Bernie Stritzke, Qure Medical executive general manager, joined the firm a year ago, he said the business concentrated more on low-volume orders, making products nobody else would. That thought process is changing.
"Our focus at this point is to get a lot of high-volume business in here," Stritzke said. "We're putting in automation and vision systems in place to be able to support this."
The new clean room will have the capability to house as many as 16 150-ton presses, though Qure Medical will put in eight to 10 initially.
"When you look at our customers, they may have some jobs that are 10,000 pieces a year, and then may have jobs that are 10 million pieces a year," he said. "They want someone to be able to do both of them, and to be able to do both of them successfully is what our focus is."
That doesn't mean Qure will lose focus on the low-volume part of its base, because it still views that as a core business model. So the new clean room will be specifically for moderate- to very high-volume business with automated type processes.
Stritzke said making automated liquid silicone rubber parts isn't just a matter of building a tool and setting it out in production.
"We geared up from an engineering standpoint, hiring engineers who are capable of doing that and understanding it so that we can be successful at it," he said.
One of the complications of running LSR projects is that flash develops at a very low gap, the Qure official said. To control that requires having tooling technology to keep the parting lines shut.
"You need to have a precision-built tool," Stritzke said. "That's why it's nice to have the Quadra tool shop to build our own tools here. They understand what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. The tool people can see the tool run. They can see the fruits of their labor and understand what some of the challenges are."
The Quadra facility in North Canton, Ohio, also works with Sturtevant to develop automation necessary to run high-volume projects, he said.
In addition, he said Qure Medical has an advantage over plastics firms trying to make LSR parts, because the finished product is an elastomer and needs to be flexible.
"They think of it as a plastic and build tools as a plastic," Stritzke said. "They put them in so-called plastic presses and just run it, and they struggle with it because they're not accustomed to it."
The former Limtech business that was housed in Sturtevant before QSR purchased it in 2011 had many customers who were large medical device manufacturers, but the firm only had the low-volume business, according to Nick Brust, Qure Medical vice president of sales and once a Limtech staff member. "We didn't have the capability for the high-volume business," he said.
Qure services 20 of the top 25 medical device manufacturers and is starting to make headway in getting them to stop looking at the business as the "low-volume company."
"We've quoted more high volumes in the last six months than we ever have," Brust said. "We're seeing a lot more opportunities because we now offer it. We have the team in place, the tooling in place, the technology in place and the clean room, so now we can be competitive quoting it."
Qure Medical also can offer its customers options for individual projects. The Lexington deal brought together the Sturtevant plant and its expertise in LSR; the Twinsburg operation that concentrates more on high consistency silicone rubber, with some capability in LSR; and a former Lexington plant in Rock Hill, S.C., that processes polyisoprene rubber.
"We get everybody involved so we can give the customer options and the best quote possible for their component," Brust said.
And being able to do more assembly work when the current clean room is converted to Class 10,000 will give the company the ability to offer more value-added services, he added. "It makes us an integrated one-stop shop. We can help you with most of your elastomeric components and assembly as well."