Teel Plastics invests in equipment to grow in medical market

By MICHAEL LAUZON, Plastics News

Tubing and profile extruder Teel Plastics Inc. is expanding its stake in the medical market.

The Baraboo, Wis., firm has invested about $1 million recently to upgrade its production and control systems. Supporting the thrust is Teel's recent ISO certification for quality in medical products manufacturing. Teel got the ISO 13485:2016 certification the week of June 11, about two years after it began the certification process.

"Medical is a growing market," said Christian Herrild, director of growth strategy for Teel, in a phone interview.

"We also like to work in regulated markets," Herrild added. The medical space allows Teel to flex its engineering and design expertise to ensure products meet regulatory requirements as well as direct customer needs.

Herrild said Teel has been making medical components for more than 20 years. Many of the 100 or so medical components the company makes are single- or limited-service items such as surgical components, swab sticks, tubing and food care items.

Teel plans to expand its medical offerings to a wider customer base. It plans to bring its coextruded structures, flexible PVC components and other products to a broader customer base. The market has seen some players exit PVC extrusion and Teel sees an opportunity to fill the gap. Teel also wants to combine extruded components and injection molded parts for finished medical goods. It has four injection molding machines in-house and may add more as relevant business grows. Herrild said some new tubing products could include thermoplastic polyurethane and thermoplastic polyester.

Teel has also been extending its data capture and analytical capabilities. The company runs a Laboratory Sampling products division in a satellite facility. It also has an operation for its tool-building room and compounding machinery. Its main factory in Baraboo has 150,000 square feet of space and includes a class 100,000 clean room.

The ISO 13485 standard is widely globally accepted as a system to ensure quality and to evaluate and control risk. Teel's certification covers its extrusion and injection molding operations as well as its stand-alone laboratory. Teel is also certified to ISO 9001 quality standards.

"We have had customers that have worked with us for years and kept auditing us to higher and higher standards, which we always maintained, and we wanted to certify that for new customers," said Teel director of quality Mike Faust in a news release.

Teel President Tom Thompson said the ISO medical certificate is an important step for future possibilities.

"We think this demonstrates our commitment to our customers and the medical market," Thompson said in a news release.

Teel has been in business for more than 60 years. It custom extrudes tubing, profiles and cores for film winding. It can make tubing with an outside diameter as small as 15 thousandths of an inch up to nine inches. Industrial tubing finds use in applications as diverse as geothermal pipe and automotive tubing. Medical tubing can encompass catheter packaging, pipettes, intravenous tubing and tubing without diethylhexyl phthalate plasticizer. In extruded profiles, Teel supplies products for appliances, point-of-purchase displays, furniture and aerospace applications.

Teel employs about 245 and runs 27 extrusion lines that process some 10 million pounds of resin per year. Annual sales exceed $50 million. The company garnered the Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year award for 2016.

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