Click on the blog titles in blue to view and post comments.
Spectrum Plastics Group in the news again
In response to a Spectrum Plastics Group press release detailing its AS9100 certification (dated December 19, 2012), MoldMaking Technology has written a shining recognition of the official validation and its impact on SPG within the industry.
Additionally, you can view the press release itself on Spectrum’s News & Events page:
SPG-MN employees donated 1,743 pounds of food and other items to the food shelf. It is approximately 600 more pounds than last year. Thank you to everyone for your generous contribution!
It’s always fun to see myself in a magazine. For anyone else who gets the print issue of Medical Design Technology, you can see what I’m talking about on page 34 of their July/August issue, where Spectrum participated in a round table discussion about contract manufacturing. Full disclosure, those answers weren’t just me- I did receive input from other leaders from our organization, but hey someone had to submit their picture... I’m just glad I didn’t break the camera.
But even better than seeing my name in print, is the realization that we’re a very viable contributor to the discussion. The ability to speak intelligently about CM-OEM communication, alleviating competitive risks, and cross-industry expertise, with other manufacturers like Ximedica, Sparton Medical, and the Tech Group, says a lot about Spectrum’s credibility in the med device industry. It’s one thing to be asked for your opinion, but quite another for the publication to actually publish it.
So thanks for the recognition MDT, and a special thank you to our Customers who have enabled us to develop the experience required to become a thought leader in the industry. We sure are glad you’ve trusted us enough to partner with us, and we look forward to the ongoing support of your successes.
You can see the on line version of MDT, as well as subscribe to the print version, at www.MDTmag.com
1. For its Littmann stethoscope, 3M moved from 14 suppliers globally to one operation in Columbia, Mo.
2. Calibur11 in Duluth moved manufacturing from China to Duluth and Chicago.
3. Miken Sports moved production of baseball bats from China to Caledonia, Minn.
4. New York-based Jarden Corp. moved some production of Diamond toothpicks from China to Cloquet, Minn.
5. AGCO, which is headquartered in Duluth, Ga., moved its North American tractor assembly plant from France to Jackson, Minn.
6. Coleman relocated life-vest production from China to Sauk Rapids, Minn.
7. Outdoor GreatRoom Co. quit all India supply contracts and some in China. It now makes most products in Eagan or via other Minnesota contractors.
8. Datacard moved one product line from Malaysia to Minnetonka.
9. Edina-based Paddi Murphy is relocating its moisture-wicking pajama line from China to South Carolina and California.
10. Permac Industries in Burnsville moved contract blade manufacturing from China to Wisconsin after persistent quality problems.
*List does not include companies that declined to be identified.
As part of a 6-week wellness challenge, the employees at Spectrum Plastics Group had an opportunity to give back to the community. Each week of the challenge focuses on a different aspect of Wellness, the theme for week 6 being 4 Others – doing acts of kindness for those around you. To help promote this concept we set up an event with a local organization, Kids Against Hunger, to have our employees package food to be delivered to children all over the world. Kids Against Hunger was founded by Richard Proudfit, who experienced the plight of starving children during his medical missions overseas. He worked with food scientists in Minnesota to develop a nutritionally complex and well-balanced meal for children battling hunger and malnutrition. There are now 97 facilities around the US that use volunteers to package the meals.
We had 34 people participate in our Kids Against Hunger event on May 9. This included employees, family and friends. After learning about the children that the meals would impact and seeing a demonstration on how to package each meal we all got to work. It was fun to see the friendly competition heat up between the 3 assembly lines. Everyone had a specific task to do and the whole team had to work together to be efficient and effective. After 1.5 hours our group had packaged 31 boxes of meals. That equates to 6,696 meals which will feed 18 children for an entire year! At the end of night everyone felt engaged, had demonstrated all 4 SPG Core Values (accountable, process-driven, customer-focused, can-do attitude), and most importantly, had a lot of fun! We’ll be doing this again soon!
Josh Topolsky tours Microsoft's prototype model shop. We get to see Objet Connex parts being built and how Microsoft uses them in their product development cycle.
CobaltNiche has announced the Cary 630 FTIR spectrometer. Congrats to the CobaltNiche team. Thank you for listing Spectrum Plastics Group as a key supplier for this product. Read the case study here: http://www.cobaltniche.com/portfolio/scientific/1/35-cary-630
Andy Lee, Debbie Kirihara and I attended the 2011 LifeScience Alley Conference last week in Minneapolis. There were 1,300 participants and it's a community dedicated to advancing the regional bioscience profession. One of the notable speakers at the event was Dr. Leslie Saxon. I was blown away by her insights, humor, and vision. She was so compelling that I searched YouTube for any videos of her other presentations. Luckily I found one and I hope you find it as inspiring as I did:
I was almost blown away this morning when looking through my emails, to see a really great interview with Jason Bassi get published by Plastics Today. Surprised by not only how well written it was (as sometimes things can be taken way out of context, and you just can't trust those Marketing guys..) but also surprised how quickly it came about, given that we'd only recently announced our DynaClass tooling.
So to me this is very validating.. shows that we're on the right track here with this direction in our business, and that the response in the market is positive. Being one of the guys behind this, that makes me feel pretty good. Then when speaking with Jason earlier today, not only was he pretty pumped up about the article, but said the shop at Dynacept is really busy right now... well that makes me feel even better.
So congrats to you, Jason, hopefully you enjoy this 15 minutes, and feel proud for a lot of what you've helped accomplish, you should. And if you missed the article, here it is:
And I'll paste it below, just in case they move it:
What does rapid tooling mean to you?
Published: November 15th, 2011
The term 'rapid tooling' can mean different things to different people, and choosing the right type of prototype process is often a confusing challenge. "Not all rapid tooling is the same," emphasizes Jason Bassi, director of Quick-Turn Manufacturing Sales. "Its scope has become completely stretched, and it means something different to everyone. I have found that if you ask a group of product development engineers to define prototype or rapid tooling, the definition varies depending on the specific needs or requirements. This often leads them to select an inferior option that delays their new-product launch date and ends up costing them money."
Quick-Turn Manufacturing (QTM) is a new menu of tooling and molding options at Spectrum Plastics Group, a Minneapolis-based plastics company offering a range of product development services including rapid prototyping, rapid tooling and production molding. The DynaClass system includes a new menu of tooling and molding options that further differentiates Spectrum as "quick-turn tooling and molding experts," said the company. DynaClass refers to a new class of rapid tooling and molding capabilities available through the Company's Dynacept Division. It is geared towards simplifying the selection of tooling for a variety of applications, and aligning customers in the medical, aerospace, defense and precision industrial markets, the best molding solution for their application.
QTM's DynaClass hopes to end the confusion by clearly defining the different tooling and molding options that are available. "This helps our customers avoid locking into one solution that may not be optimal for their application," Bassi explains.
Four classes of rapid injection molds
The company outlines four classes of rapid injection molds, starting at the most basic prototype application - DynaClass 1 - up through DynaClass 4, which is similar to class 103 'bridge' tools. "This set of offerings helps our customers select the process best for them to meet their new-product development requirements at exactly the right time in the lifecycle," Bassi says.
In many applications, the company uses M.U.D. (multi-unit die) sets with interchangeable inserts to provide a core and cavity that produces parts in the chosen material that can be used for testing, marketing, or even put into the end-use product. Bassi explains that where QTM fits well is at the point in which the customer's design is 90% complete. "They're far enough along that the design may be frozen, but not 100% sure, so they need some steel safe areas. They then need parts for design validation, FDA approval and process validation, which we can provide," Bassi adds. "Our Fast Track program takes that tool, which is typically a DynaClass 3 or 4 tool with an independent frame, validate the tool, the parts, and the manufacturing process showing repeatability with those tools."
The DynaClass 1 and 2 tools tend to have more hand-loaded inserts rather than automation, and more operator assistance. "At this stage, customers are not really putting a lot of money into the tooling, but they need 1000 parts and want a way to do it cost effectively," says Bassi. "The sweet spot for this is the lower-volume parts."
QTM's goal is to provide production quality parts through its DynaClass program, in a timeframe of 3-4 weeks and with the right type of tooling for their needs. "We're not asking customers to make their part design fit our process," Bassi says. "Some people will always need a true prototype part. What we offer is pre-production parts with the actual material required. It comes down to what the customer needs."
Spectrum Plastics Group has four facilities integrating multiple production manufacturing and rapid prototyping facilities in Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota and New York to provide a seamless transition to customers for each step of the product development process.
Ready, Set, Go!
“Time to Market”- What does this phrase really mean? During my 17 years of living in the aerospace and defense world where light weight, corrosion resistance, and robust products are not only the norm but have come to be expected, the phrase “Time to Market” (aka. T2M) has been used quite often by many companies I’ve worked with.
T2M is essentially the timeline of events that occur when taking a concept or idea to the market place. It’s basically what separates the market leaders from the market followers.
What are these “T2M” timeline of events? Well, creating a napkin sketch or generating a 3 dimensional model on the computer are good but I’ve found that a prototype SLA (that’s typically produced in a day) can be priceless especially when using it to see, touch and show the product that you are intending to produce. This saves design time and costly form, fit and limited function modifications down the road!
The next step in the timeline is typically getting a hand full of parts made for testing. These can be more SLA’s, machined parts from near net stock shapes or possibly cast urethane parts where the tooling is inexpensive and produces a usable, robust, testable part.
Frequently field testing occurs next in the timeline of events and this is where you would normally want a part that’s produced from the same process of intended production. QTM – Quick Turn Manufacturing is a term that is used within Spectrum Plastics that represents a tooling standardization in support of rapidly deployed requirements. Say your requirement is for 3000pcs and you need a tool in 3 weeks or less- our DynaClass 1 tool would be the answer! All of a sudden the requirement jumped to 100K total life of the program and you need the tool in 4-6 weeks with parts – a DynaClass 3 tool would be your answer!
I have been around the industry for quite a while now, and have experience with a number of prototype houses and molders. What excites me about Spectrum is how we really do live out our mission statement on a daily basis. Spectrum’s Core Focus- “Quickly turning engineering concepts into high quality products.” is what we say, it’s what we do and it’s exactly what the Aerospace and Defense Industries require!
I heard a great story yesterday about an employee who truly demonstrated the Spectrum Plastics Group Core Values.
An employee who is part of the Clean Room Operations Team in the Minnesota plant was scheduled for a PTO day on the Tuesday after a holiday weekend. We were having some challenges with a piece of equipment that would have caused a late delivery for a customer on Tuesday. This particular employee came in at 3AM on Monday night to solve the problem and we made the shipment on time to our customer.
This type of customer focus is what makes SPG great and should give our customers confidence that we will do whatever it takes to make our commitments.
The more customers I visit, the more convinced I am that our value proposition perfectly supports our customers need to shorten their product development lifecycle. The article linked below supports the fact that our customers want a 'seamless transition' from prototype to production. The author Erik Swain writes in Medical Process Outsouring (MPO) magazine, "Not long ago, prototyping and production for medical devices were considered two completely separate disciplines with equally separate equipment and processes. No longer. While some jobs still are performed the traditional way, an increasing number of prototyping projects are being done with an eye toward production. They may use production equipment and employ near-production-level detail. The disciplines are becoming inextricably linked, and OEMs need to be able to partner with suppliers who can either perform both or understand how to seamlessly transition between the two."
That perfectly describes how Spectrum Plastics Group supports our customers. We are the only company that can 'perform both' as the author suggests. In fact we can prototype, provide quick turn manufacturing and production injection molding all within one company. This resonates with every customer that we talk to and is one of the reasons we are growing so fast.
Tim reflects on plastics
Last night I watched The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman. Probably the 20th time I’ve seen that movie… I love that scene where Ben’s at the party, and that guy tell him the secret- “Plastics.” The scene reminded me how much I actually dig plastics, and how my life is forever changed by my involvement in the plastics industry. For the better, I should add.
So if you’re looking for a fun old movie to Netflix some time, dial up The Graduate.. I tell you Anne Bancroft has never looked better- did you know she was married to Mel Brooks? Now there’s a collection of movies... but I’ll save that for another blog post. Until then, back to plastics!! -tim
A little while back, we had a meeting with a Customer over in New Hampshire.I thought I was going there to talk about their low volume molding programs at our Dynacept facility, but was surprised to learn at the end of our meeting that they had a sudden hard deadline - they needed to get 25 sets of 80 durometer shore A parts in 10 days for a new button keypad. This was a 10 day turn around and they were in a bind thinking this wasn’t possible. There was an engineer in the meeting who despite knowing us from working through some DFM issues didn’t know we offered a solution for this, and what’s even more ironic is that both of our prototyping sites can provide cast urethane parts, but he thought we were just a molder. I guess it goes to show you how important it is to remind folks about everything you can do for them. People often label you by the first thing you do, and don’t necessarily see the big picture- one of the challenges we see at Dynacept as we transition from a prototyper to a large product development company.
Knowing time was of the essence we instantly sent the request to both of our prototype facilities trying to determine if either site had capacity. Within 20 minutes Jason Haslob responded alerting us indeed our Dynacept facility could turn this around, and in that same time we received the same reassurance from Protogenic in Colorado. Given the location of the Customer here, a quote from Dynacept immediately followed to the customer and the job was kicked off that night.
As typical with many projects a number of circumstances caused a delay on the customer’s end in getting their part request out the door. Unfortunately their schedule did not change and there was some panic in how they would get these parts, yet we were still able to deliver to the original date, despite the delays... in fact we managed to ship one day early! We generally can solve most of our customers RP needs, all it takes is listening to them, and then identifying the best capability to fill the need.
Spectrum Plastics Group does not fit nicely into a black box because we offer so much. What we value most are our relationships and building trust. Because we are so diverse and offer so many solutions it is important for us to provide outstanding service to exceed expectations. Often our customers have been using one of our many services such as SLA or Quick Turn Manufacturing for years and discover some new niche we can fill after years of working with us.It is always satisfying to help a customer in stressful situation. This is why we have customers who have used us for over 20 years and then become our best advocates.
Business Development Manager, Quick-Turn Manufacturing Dynacept Division
The Protogenic Division was featured in a story by DSM Somos about another successful application of their WaterShed SLA resin. Varian Inc. develops calibration systems for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices, and found a unique and successful solution using SLA's from Spectrum Plastics Group . The full text of the article is below:
Building Better Phantoms
The Challenge: Matching highly specific medical device developmental needs with precisely the right materials.
Varian, Inc., a leader in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) technology, produced the first commercial NMR spectrometer more than 50 years ago. Since then, NMR has become a standard technique for chemical, biological, medical and physical research. NMR imaging systems are recognised as significant tools for medical diagnostics.
NMR works because atomic nuclei behave like magnets when exposed to an external magnetic field. Under such conditions, the spinning nuclei create small magnetic fields that can be stimulated using specific frequencies of electro-magnetic energy. The result is that radio waves are emitted. Those waves can be measured to create a visual image of both the molecular structure being studied and its environment.
In developing NMR technology, it is essential to anticipate the performance of emerging devices. This is complicated by the fact that imaging systems may feature varying global standards. Therefore, it is usually not practical to use humans to test and verify performance. This challenge is resolved by using what is called a 'phantom'. Phantoms are objects that do not occur in nature, but can be created to replicate a human standard that can be imaged to test the performance of magnetic imaging systems. These phantoms are kept on site to verify system performance through quality assurance protocols.
Recently, Varian was commissioned to develop miniature spatial phantoms for use in testing and calibrating gradient systems in small and micro-bore magnetic resonance imaging systems. For clinical systems, these types of phantoms are most often constructed from machined plastic. For the smaller scale phantoms needed for micro-imaging, this is not feasible and we turned to stereolithography technology to achieve the needed detail. Portions of the inside of the phantom are removed to create a test pattern, after which the phantom is filled with an aqueous solution. When imaged, the NMR device displays the signal from the water in the water-filled sections of the plastic. It was therefore necessary to create a device that could withstand rigorous use with aqueous substances. To do so, we had to first identify a resin with characteristics encompassing low water absorbency coupled with superior transparency necessary for detecting and removing undesirable air bubbles.
In exploring resin opportunities, Varian were quickly able to identify several options that seemed to match our requirements. They ultimately selected a SL resin that simulated the appearance and physical characteristics of polycarbonate. At the surface level, this seemed appropriate because polycarbonate has low water absorbency and is the plastic of choice for larger phantoms. Moreover, polycarbonates feature high temperature resistance, high impact resistance and clear optical properties. Consequently, they are widely used in the medical and chemical industries.
The Wrong Approach: Improper material selection leads to prototyping failures While Varian's first choice did have many attributes similar to polycarbonate, it was not tolerant of aqueous environments. Within one week, the prototyped product created failed because the part was moisture sensitive. As a result, it expanded and distorted in an aqueous environment. The vendor did say that the resin was sensitive to humidity but they did not have any water absorbency data available.
Pictured: Miniature spatial phantoms manufactured from moisture resistant WaterShed XC 11122 stereolithography material.
The Right Approach: Testing SL resins demonstrates that proof is in the performance Varian's unfavorable experience with the initial SL resin caused us to seek input from Protogenic, Inc. (Varian's SL prototype supplier) who suggested several alternatives. This time, however, rather than proceeding to actual prototyping of the device, we established a resin evaluation procedure.
Varian subjected small tokens made from a number of resins to a long-term soak test in a relevant aqueous solution and made periodic weight and size measurements of those samples over the course of seven months.
Although time was obviously consumed by the procedure of testing SL resins, the result was that Varian saved time and backtracking by first determining the resin most appropriate to their needs. The resin that prevailed was WaterShed developed by DSM Somos.
Conclusion: Proper resin evaluation took time initially, but saved time in the end, by leading Varian to the best material option for rapid, direct manufacture of a medical device component.
WaterShed is an optically clear rapid SL prototyping resin developed by DSM Somos to provide ABS-like properties, clarity and excellent temperature resistance. WaterShed proved, in Varian's application, to produce clear, functional, accurate parts that simulate acrylic in appearance.
Most importantly, WaterShed XC 11122 provided the lowest available water absorption versus alternative resins. Varian successfully used two grades: WaterShed XC 11122 and XC 11112. Resistance to moisture resulted in excellent dimensional and physical property stability. This facilitated direct, rapid manufacture of the phantoms using the stereolithography process.
Varian, Inc. is a diversified, global technology leader helping customers innovate with confidence, enhance their competitiveness, and boost their efficiency. Varian's people, products, and solutions enable customers to meet increasingly complex challenges in life sciences and industry. Website: www.varianinc.com
Protogenic, a division of Spectrum Plastics Group, is a professional service bureau that specializes in Additive Manufacturing Technologies. Protogenic is a leading service provider in the Stereolithography market, using a wide variety of resins provided by DSM Somos. In addition to Stereolithography models, Protogenic also specializes in providing customers with high quality production cast polyurethanes, Objet Connex 3D printing, and direct manufacturing using Laser Sintered nylon. See www.spectrumplasticsgroup.com to learn more about the vast capabilities of the Spectrum Plastics Group.
DSM Somos is one of the world's leading material suppliers to the rapid prototyping industry, providing stereolithography resins used for the creation of three-dimensional models and prototypes directly from digital data. Patented SOMOS® ProtoFunctional® materials are used in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical and telecommunications. SOMOS® resins for stereolithography provide advanced technology to respond to the changing needs of new product development and industrial design. These materials demonstrate a varying range of performance properties including: transparency, superior humidity and heat resistance, and mechanical properties which replicate those of many production grade plastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene, ABS and PBT. Technical data on all SOMOS® materials may be found at http://www.dsmsomos.com/
For questions related to this article, please contact:
|Company:||DSM Somos USA|
|Telephone:||+ 1 847 468 7741|
|Fax:||+ 1 847 468 7790|