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Plastics: A Versatile Life-Saver


Home healthcare products—including therapeutic devices, monitors, sensors and telemetry devices—are expected to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the medical device industry.

Rising healthcare spending, higher life expectancy and innovation all have fueled growth in the plastics and medical device industries. A strong focus on research and development has led to numerous scientific and technological breakthroughs with no end in sight. In the past few decades, plastics have made healthcare simpler and less painful, and new techniques possible. Plastic medical devices have reduced contamination, relieved pain and cut medical costs. They have prolonged, improved and saved lives.

“From blood bags and examination gloves to glucose meters and heart valves, vinyl, polyurethane and other plastics have traditionally been the healthcare industry’s materials of choice,” says Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “The materials’ strength and versatility will continue to be in demand as medical discoveries and treatment breakthroughs create a need for new medical tools that only plastics can deliver.” Be it tamper-evident seals, child-resistant caps or Petri dishes, plastics continue to permeate medicine.

Home healthcare products—including assistive devices, therapeutic devices, monitors, sensors and telemetry devices—are expected to become one of the fastest- growing segments of the medical device industry. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that as the U.S. population ages, healthcare will be increasingly delivered in alternative settings, such as nursing homes, hospices and patient homes. As a result, BCC Research & Consulting, a company that does economic, market and policy research, projects a $20-billion global market for home medical equipment in 2012.

Another market tipping the scale is the plastic medical device packaging sector. Plastics packaging has proven indispensable in modern medical care, providing products such as see-through intravenous bags and break-resistant containers. According to a recent study by the firm Frost and Sullivan, this sector is expected to earn $920 million by 2013.

U.S. Census data shows that by 2030 there will be 71.5 million adults age 65 and over—up from 35 million in 2000. The older population is influencing the direction of the medical device industry due to its changing health needs and an accompanying shift in thinking on how and where seniors will be treated. Polymer-containing devices such as artery-opening stents, heart pacemakers, and hip replacements will help save and improve life for this rising figure—demonstrating that as our population ages, the need for plastics will grow.

As important a role as plastics may play in medical devices, there is an unlimited number of other uses for this material. Durable, economic, light and reusable, plastics can help make products such as utensils, window film, bottles, toys and furniture.

Martinsville-Henry County: A Leader in Plastics

Martinsville-Henry County, VA knows plastics—the county is producing some of the finest plastics products available. It is home to the world’s largest manufacturer of window film, the fastest growing window film manufacturer, an industry trendsetter for felt liners and a leader in the world of Expanded Polystyrene Foam products.

Solutia, Inc./CP Films, Inc., Commonwealth Laminating and Coating, Inc., Applied Felts, Inc. and Tri-State Foam Products, Inc. all leaders in their industries, and they do it all from Martinsville-Henry County.

Located only 35 miles from Martinsville-Henry County, the Advanced Applied Polymer Processing Institute (AAPPI), part of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, is a national research and engineering center of excellence providing strategic contract research arrangements, as well as state-of-the-art analytical, processing and testing services for the polymer manufacturing, processing and converting industries. A primary focus of the center is to strengthen polymer-based companies by enhancing their production efficiency, profitability, product quality and global competitiveness.

Serving most areas of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Tri State Foam Products, Inc. is a manufacturer and fabricator of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam products. Tri State EPS is a rigid, lightweight, foamed plastic with resilient closed cells molded in a range of densities and sizes to meet your application/specification requirements. Tri State Foam Products include architectural shapes, fabricated/shape molded and specialty packaging, geofoam and cavity wall, roofing and EIFS insulation.

Applied Felt’s parent company, W.E. Rawson Group, was formed in the United Kingdom in 1865, manufacturing quality textiles for a number of applications. After more than a century of experience, this knowledge was expanded to help create the CIPP process, as well as its first liners. Now, more than 30 years later, Applied Felts has become the international leader in supplying liners for successful CIPP installations around the world.

In 1997, Applied Felts expanded its business to the United States by adding a manufacturing plant in Martinsville-Henry County. This move opened up a whole new world of opportunity in what has become the world’s largest market for CIPP rehabilitation.

Martinsville-Henry County is connected to a highly advanced optical broadband network. The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC) operates a 1,700-mile backbone network providing 400 Gigabits of capacity with key carrier interconnection points from Washington DC to Atlanta, GA. The network provides connectivity with speeds ranging from 10 Megabits to 10 Gigabits. This network provides ultra-low latency connections to many Tier 1 telecom service providers. Multiple local and regional fiber optic networks in Martinsville-Henry County, including Century Link (formerly Embarq), Level3, Ntelos and the City of Martinsville MiNet, provide a robust and diverse telecommunications environment to serve the business, industrial and technology industries that are thriving in the county.

Martinsville-Henry County also is home to several GigaParks™ that have direct connectivity to the MBC network and provide the perfect setting for companies requiring high capacity and low cost for their business and data center needs. Having access to this advanced fiber-optic broadband network was one reason the area was a finalist for a recent Yahoo server farm.

Martinsville-Henry County’s strategic mid-Atlantic location reduces transportation time and cost for product delivery. Five interstates and 2 major airports within 50 miles, plus access to the Port of Virginia and Norfolk rail service, offer you a variety of reliable shipping options. The county offers a pro-business attitude to help you get your plant up and running quickly. A multitude of available sites and buildings and trained workforce will enable you to speed your product to market.

There are many reasons that companies have been looking at Martinsville-Henry County, including access to an advanced fiber-optic broadband network. Martinsville-Henry County also has a long-standing textile and furniture history, where well over 50 percent of the workforce is trained with manufacturing skills.

The Commonwealth of Virginia and Martinsville-Henry County offer a variety of incentives for new and expanding Virginia employers, including an Enterprise Zone, a Technology Zone, the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund. These incentives have enticed numerous companies to relocate in the county in recent months, and they are fueling the growth of business/industrial parks that offer 2,000 acres of land for development.

Two new business parks are being developed in Martinsville-Henry County. The Commonwealth Crossing Park sits on approximately 800 acres on the North Carolina border, just 30 miles north of Greensboro airport. The new park also is served by rail. A 1,200-acre expansion is in the works for the current Patriot Centre site. These sites will be available to accommodate companies of various sizes, and there will be tracts large enough to accommodate major industries.

“Our plans show prospective industries that we can accommodate their needs today, tomorrow and in the future,” says Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

Meridian, ID: City with a Golden Core

The Core, a 3-mile-long enterprise zone that takes advantage of Meridian, Idaho’s outstanding infrastructure and access to a major airport in the heart of Idaho’s Treasure Valley—is a collaboration of more than 40 organizations energized by and capitalizing on the fusion of health. Meridian, the third-largest city in the state, is one of the best-kept secrets in the West.

Downtown, Mayor Tammy de Weerd is celebrating with her many Facebook friends, bouncing school kids and excited longtime citizens Meridian’s achievement as one of the country’s 100 Best Communities for Young People. This recognition by America’s Promise Alliance and ING follows closely Meridian’s recognition by Money magazine as one of its Best Places to Live.

A mile or so to the east—in the heart of a The CORE is an impressive collaboration of researchers, educators, healthcare experts and business leaders is working on a transformational plan for creating a core competency in Health and Research in Idaho. One priority project currently under way leverages the resources of The CORE to develop a modernized system for the delivery of healthcare in Chengdu, China. The CORE has emerged as the potent embodiment of Meridian’s mantra that it is “Built for Business, Designed for Living.”

Idaho’s all-access lifestyle means that the partners preparing a strategic plan for the Chengdu Media Group’s healthcare vision can take a short drive downtown for the mayor’s celebration and then get back to finish their work together for The CORE before running the kids to soccer practice.

The CORE’s Chengdu opportunity is significant and has long term growth potential. It represents an opportunity for Idaho businesses to develop international business through the development of a “med-tech” campus that can redefine how healthcare is delivered. That is the promise of Chengdu; that is the promise of The CORE.

The CORE’s Chengdu opportunity is significant and has growth potential. It represents an export of American knowledge about how to create a “med-tech” campus that can redefine how healthcare is delivered. That is the promise of Chengdu; that is the promise of The CORE.

“It is an honor to have this opportunity to share lessons from the alignment of research, business, advanced education and healthcare with leaders of one of the most important countries of the 21st century,” said Earl Sullivan, chairman of The CORE, who gained deep experience in working in China as chief executive of a pharmaceutical manufacturer. “What is developing rapidly at The CORE can become one model of how healthcare could evolve in China.”

While the work on the strategic plan for Chengdu proceeds, all kinds of developments are taking place in Idaho’s med-tech cluster, located only 10 minutes form a major airport, along a three-mile stretch of I-84 served by two different freeway exits.

Idaho State University (www.isu.edu), nationally recognized for its healthcare and pharmacy curriculum, has opened its multimillion-dollar Meridian Health Science Center at The CORE in the same former high-tech manufacturing complex that houses the Meridian School District’s cutting-edge magnet high school, where students seeking careers in health care and technology can attend.

St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center (www.stlukesonline.org/meridian/) located in The CORE recorded more than 320,000 patient visits at the hospital and its associated clinics in 2010. St. Luke’s Meridian is part of St. Luke’s Health System, Idaho’s largest and only locally controlled health care system with five hospitals across central and southern Idaho. Over the next decade, St. Luke’s Health System plans to invest $1.27 billion in new facilities and services across the its service area with a goal of establishing St. Luke’s Health System as a nationally-renowned health care provider.

In The CORE’s Pinebridge Med-Tech Business Park, fast-track construction is under way on a new headquarters manufacturing complex for PKG User Interface Solutions (www.pkguis.com). PKG has grown into a major player in the health care diagnostic field with its innovative processes to design, develop, and manufacture integrated ultrasound and other medical devices for some of the leading brands in the business. Now, Meridian-based PKG is making a big move into avionics. The company has been selected to be part of the avionics team to develop and manufacture user interface control systems for Airbus’ next generation super airliner—the A350.

Idaho government data show that the healthcare industry will be Idaho’s greatest job creator for the future generations. Healthcare will be Idaho’s fastest-growing, largest and highest-paying industry between now and 2016.

Leading edge healthcare and technology firms already at work in and around The CORE include Bodybuilding.com, a leading provider of health and nutrition products to athletes; Complex Care Hospital for acute care patients; Idaho Urologic Institute, dedicated to comprehensive urologic care for men, women and children; Unity Healthcare, whose new model of clinical practice is designed to deliver convenient, affordable family healthcare; Conex Med Pro Systems, a revolutionary new Telemedicine System that facilitates clinical collaboration and education through a common set of tools designed for clinicians and patients; and MWI Veterinary Supply, a global supplier of animal health products.

Irvine, CA: Home to Masimo

A device that measures vital blood characteristics without a needle, and patient monitoring sensors that maintain wireless contact with healthcare providers—some of the world’s most sophisticated and innovative patient-monitoring equipment and medical technology comes from Masimo Corporation. This means that it comes from Irvine.

Founded by Joe E. Kiani, the company’s chairman and CEO, Masimo’s development of noninvasive testing and patient monitoring tools has garnered the company worldwide acclaim and consistent growth.

Masimo has more than 1,700 employees and contractors, and advanced patient monitoring products in top hospitals and healthcare facilities worldwide, as well as breakthrough technologies inside 100 multiparameter monitors and 40 monitoring brands, including Atom, Datascope, Philips and Zoll. The company’s founder remains as committed to innovation and development as he did when Masimo was a private “garage start-up”—and equally as committed to Irvine.

“Irvine has been a hotbed for technology and medical technology from the early days of AST and Western Digital, to the medical companies like Edwards and McGaw,” Kiani observes. “We’ve had tremendous access to resources, from engineers to businesspeople, that we gather not only from Orange County, but also San Diego and Los Angeles.”

And the available resources extend beyond Masimo’s offices, labs and campus. “A lot of the vendors that we need to work with have facilities here,” Kiani observes. “Everyone from integrated circuit companies to tooling companies to printing companies,” he says. “We have access to a lot of people who do a great job in manufacturing, business and engineering. They’ve been educated and trained here by many other companies before Masimo. Local universities like the University of California, Irvine and Cal State, Fullerton, as well as schools in San Diego and Los Angeles, provide a rich pool of business professionals and very talented engineers.”

Another aspect of Irvine came into play as Kiani was starting Masimo: “Even at the early stages, when we had to rely on venture capital funds—there are venture capitalists here.” “I would describe Irvine not only as a place that has great weather,” he says, “but a place that is really a great combination of the good things that you feel in a small town, and a metropolitan city, teeming with an energy . . . Once you come to Irvine, you grow with it.”

Growth without loss of focus or character is at the heart of Masimo and the city Joe Kiani chose as the home for his company and himself: “The environment that we get to be part of here in Irvine, where everyone has this constructive energy to move things forward in a positive way—I think it’s second to none.”

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