Stryker Corp., a major medical supplier, plans to invest $5 million in a new metal injection molding (MIM) plant in Portage, MI in anticipation of rising demand.
With the new Injection Molding Center, Stryker will establish a new core competency within its integrated manufacturing department that will include vertical integration of metal injection molding technology.
"The majority of components that are currently machined will continue to be machined in the future, but specific components that are excellent candidates for MIM will be transferred to that technology," says J. Patrick Anderson,
vice president of corporate affairs at Stryker. Stryker currently has no internal MIM capability.
Stryker's investment follows a trend toward metal injection molding for medical parts. A new report from BCC research predicts a 12.9 percent annual growth rate for powder molding in North America through 2014. The amount of MIM for the medical market in North America is more than quadruple any other region in the world.
Stryker's investment shows why MIM is one of the brightest spots in American manufacturing.
"MIM rivals many of the mechanical properties found in traditional machining," says Anderson. "We believe that it is ideally suited for parts that require complex geometry and reasonably tight tolerances."
Stryker, which is seeking tax breaks from the Portage City Council for the new facility, is a global leader in human orthopedic implants, often using specially developed titanium powder. Orthopedic implants were a $4 billion business for Stryker last year, representing 59 percent of its total sales. Artificial joints are made of cobalt chromium, titanium alloys, ceramics or ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene.
Surgical equipment, the focus of the Portage plant, is another fast-growing business. The Portage plant had more than 1 million square feet in 2008, making it Stryker's biggest plant by almost a factor of two. Surgical equipment represented $2.8 billion in sales, last year, up from $2 billion in 2006. MedSurg Equipment products include surgical equipment; surgical navigation systems; endoscopic, communications and digital imaging systems, and patient handling and emergency medical equipment.
The top competitors to Stryker for orthopedic reconstructive products are DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Zimmer Holdings, Inc., Biomet, Inc. and Smith & Nephew plc.
The company's manufacturing processes consist primarily of precision machining, metal fabrication and assembly operations; the forging and investment casting of cobalt chrome, and the finishing of cobalt chrome and titanium.