Brookdale Plastics Dives into Deep-Draw Thermoforming for Medical Packaging
Packaging provider Brookdale Plastics has acquired two new machines that will enable the company to shorten lead times and produce deep-draw thermoformed packages in the cleanroom.
Brookdale Plastics is a supplier of custom thermoformed packaging for the medical and other markets. Two months ago, the company installed a new CNC machine so that it could produce its own tooling for the manufacturing floor. The ability to manufacture tooling instead of subcontracting it provides benefits both to Brookdale and its customers, says Cameron Koeppe, sales manager at Brookdale Plastics, to PMP News.
“The CNC gives us a lot of flexibility as far as being able to machine jobs,” says Koeppe. “We lose control when we use subcontractors. Now we have control of the jobs. We can determine which one to do first, so we can prioritize. We can schedule our own jobs. It allows a lot of flexibility for us and our customers.”
In May, when a new thermoforming machine arrives, Brookdale Plastics also will be able to produce deep-draw thermoforming in the cleanroom. The machine will be the company’s fourth thermoforming machine for the medical market, but the first in the cleanroom, and the first that can produce deep-draw medical packaging.
“We are entering into a new market,” says Koeppe. “We were limited to roughly four inches in depth. Now we can produce almost up to six inches deep. There is a fair amount of medical packaging that is in the deep-draw part. We have a deep-draw thermoformer, but we never had one in the cleanroom operation.”
The deep-draw thermoformer also will enable to company to produce more products quicker. “It’s allowing us to shorten lead times to our customers,” says Koeppe. “It allowing us to produce deeper or taller parts, and it is also giving us the capacity to produce more at one time, because it is a larger machine.”
Company growth spurred Brookdale to purchase the two machines. Last year, the company added 30 new customers, says Koeppe. But despite this, it’s clear that the device industry is under pressure to cut costs, says Koeppe. This is reflected in requests from device companies to reduce the amount of packaging material, and to fit several products into one package, two trends that also help companies meet their sustainability goals.
“Everyone is trying to reduce the size of the packaging, eliminating as much waste as possible,” says Koeppe. “Over the last year or so, we have had one product where we took out 25% of the package size. It still met all of the customer criteria. Another customer entered one of the products into an award and they ended up getting an award for the size reduction, the material reduction, and carbon footprint.”
Brookdale also can help its customers reduce packaging material in a more creative way, by replacing several different packages with a universal one.
“People are trying to use more universal trays,” says Koeppe. “Where they used to have a tray for each medical device, they now say, can we combine these three devices into one package? That reduces their number of SKUs. It’s a lot easier for them to inventory and easier for us to run. We have worked on several projects over the last year, fitting multiple things into the same package.”
By Camilla Andersson