Trend’s capital investment in the facility and additional cleanroom space and equipment, including a number of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag 50 tonne IntElect machines, has enabled the company to boost process stability and achieve shorter production runs.
Trend’s 7000 m2 manufacturing facility in Ireland is the company’s Centre of Excellence for injection moulding, providing tooling, project management, Moldflow and scientific injection moulding support to Trend Technologies’ sites globally.
Tom Kelly, Manufacturing Manager at Trend, said: “The Irish and UK medical device sector is in a sustained growth phase. We are in the process of building another cleanroom, which when complete in the summer will expand our cleanroom manufacturing capacity by an additional 400 m2. This is in response to the positive outlook for the sector and the increasing demand for high quality medical device components.”
Items moulded on site by Trend, form part of Class I, IIA, IIB and III medical devices and include wound care products, diagnostic laboratory consumables, ventilator housings, surgical handles and stent delivery sub-components. Most of these are highly customised, so when making the investment in new cleanroom machinery Trend focused on sourcing equipment that would automate process stability and increase product integrity.
Although this is not Trend’s first foray into all-electric machines — installing the first over a decade ago — Senior Processing Engineer, Trevor Thornton reports that the Sumitomo (SHI) Demag IntElect’s are proving to be particularly flexible and reliable. The manufacturing site also has 32 Demag hydraulic machines.
Thornton said: “We knew that all-electric machines are more energy efficient and better for repeatability. Yet, given that we can mould larger products that weigh from one kilo right down to 0.025 grams, geometrical tolerances can be extremely tight.”
To accomplish the combination of precision and repeatability, Trend makes full use of the activeLock technology installed on each IntElect. Since installation, Thornton states activeLock has reduced defects in the process significantly.
The Trend team is equally complimentary about the IntElect’s machine sequencing and how straightforward it is to programme, even with little operator experience.
Thornton said: “Even seemingly simple components can be complex to mould. Having a HMI interface that integrates fully with the moulding system, water heaters and the robots, saves us a considerable amount of programming time. For non-standard items, we can programme in-house within a couple of hours versus several weeks. This enables us to be more responsive, achieve faster changeover times and meet evolving market demands.”
Kelly said: “With the continuing implementation of Lean Manufacturing and continuous improvement, there’s been a definite shift towards shorter runs. As a result we are accommodating more moulds and faster changeovers.
This is only made possible by complete equipment standardisation and the connectivity of the machines and associated ancillary equipment. This is an evolving and improving process that can only be made possible by working with aligned suppliers.”