IRP Medical, Silicone Rubber Company, “Growing on All Fronts”
IRP Medical has expanded to 10 horizontal liquid silicone rubber injection machines inside its Class 8 clean room, with two new additions in 2017.
The firm started with just three presses at its San Clemente, Calif., facility in 2013. IRP Medical now operates 13 total, with the other three used for high consistency silicone rubber applications.
"We have been successful in scaling things up to high volume," Rey Obnamia, vice president of technology and regulatory, said at MD&M West, held Feb. 6-8 in Anaheim. "We have a product we make up to 32 million a year, then some only a few thousands a year, and then everything in between. Being a contract manufacturer, we have to be flexible to satisfy the variety of demands of our customers."
Executive Vice President Trey Atkins (left) and Rey Obnamia, vice president of technology and regulatory, at IRP's MD&M West booth in Anaheim, Calif.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the firm added a new Engel E-Mac 310/105, including a CC300 controller and Engel's X-Melt software platform. Obnamia said the machine enables IRP to mold precise and very small rubber parts that weigh less than a gram at a very high volume.
The firm also added a pre-owned 55-ton Engel press to support some of its long-running high volume production jobs. Obnamia said the move will free up some machine capacity for the rest of the plant's other Arburg, Engel and SPM molding machines.
"We have to enable ourselves to have as much capacity as we can with the flexibility to mix and match shorter and long-term runs at the same time," Obnamia said.
Going forward, Obnamia said IRP Medical is in the process of putting in a tool shop at IRP Medical. Trey Atkins, IRP executive vice president, said the project will occur in two phases and represent a $250,000 investment.
The division also will be looking to enhance its automation capabilities to drive manufacturing efficiencies. The firm is in the process of acquiring a portable robot in the coming months, one that can move from one press to another. But the executive stressed that the firm is not intending to replace its current work force with automation.
"We continue to grow every year and expected to continue for the next three to five years," Obnamia said. "Our focus is to concentrate on high volume, critical-to-function medical components and devices."
IRP Medical's products on display at MD&M West in Anaheim, Calif.
The medical unit isn't the only one growing. The firm's Mikron Rubber division, which produces hydraulic/pneumatic seals and diaphragms to a wide range of customers, has acquired Precision Molded Products Inc.
The firm will merge the two operations together to form MikronPMP Aerospace, which will be based in the recently acquired and outfitted 25,000-sq.-ft. facility at Mikron's Ontario, Calif., campus. PMP formerly was based in Corona, Calif., which is about 20 miles from Ontario. Obnamia said all of PMP's employees will transfer with the business.
That includes Chris Kozloski, who founded the company in 2000. The former Air Force veteran helped grow PMP's elastomeric sealing solutions business to include many of the major aerospace companies, including Boeing, Lockheed and the U.S. Government. He will serve MikronPMP Aerospace as the principal and lead the company's engineering teams and technological advancement initiatives.
"He's a very technical, gifted guy," Obnamia said of Kozloski. "He was able to secure some great accounts with the big aerospace companies. This is an opportunity for us to break into that market as well because PMP is on their approved supplier list. That's why we've made this as a merger."
Atkins said PMP will help Mikron further enhance its presence in the aerospace market. PMP brings a high degree of aerospace sealing design, engineering, in-house tooling development and AS 9100 quality systems to the combined companies.
Mikron primarily focuses on gum rubber, producing products for the fluid power, oil and gas, energy, and general sealing solutions industries. It produces polyurethane wheels for automated robots used in warehouses. Atkins said Mikron's aerospace presence consists mainly of compression molded connectors produced using gum or fluorosilicone blends.
PMP, however, produces larger rubber and composite structures through fiber and fabric reinforcing. The firm mainly uses gum silicone and organic rubber compounds to produce its products.
"There is some very strong demand for the products they make," Obnamia said.
IRP's final division, ABBA Roller, recently added a 72x72 inch, 1,800-ton vertical press to its facility in Ontario, which is located about a mile away from Mikron's operations.
The press will be used to produce drive rollers for long running production volumes. Obnamia said various support equipment was added for secondary operations—including lifts, cranes, a sand blaster, a three-roll builder and additional laser measuring equipment.
The division has added at least 12-15 jobs. Atkins added that employment has increased throughout the IRP Group.
"We've grown double digits over the last three years," Atkins said. "IRP Medical has tripled in size since 2013 in terms of revenue."