New Medical Plastics Center Links Industry, Academia and Research

October 19, 2011 – With a growth rate of nearly 10 percent annually, sales projected to reach $6.55 billion in 2012, and an estimated 100,000 related jobs, the medical plastics sector in the United States has a critical role in the growing health care industry.

In response to this growing sector and with support from its sponsors, including Harmac Medical Products, SIGMA Plastics Services, Philips Respironics and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has invested more than $4 million into creating the state-of-the-art Medical Plastics Center of Excellence (MPC).

With the creation of this facility, Penn State Behrend is positioned to educate students and assist the current medical device workforce with coursework, a certificate program and professional development training specific to this growing industry.

Strategically located on the first floor of the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center, the MPC is adjacent to Penn State Behrend's 10,500-square-foot plastics processing facility. The center's grand opening will be Wednesday, October 26, at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The MPC is part of Penn State Behrend's open lab initiative where members of industry and academia work side-by-side to share expertise and resources. The center's collaborative research capabilities include developing, testing and characterizing materials; product design, development and research; prototyping through pilot production; and software development.

"Our mission is to partner with companies to maximize medical device performance and lower the cost of healthcare," said Jason Williams, head of the Medical Plastics Center of Excellence. This applied research and outreach center will support companies in the development of new medical devices and packaging, technologies that could not exist without advanced plastics materials.

The MPC will house a dedicated medical plastics lab that features an ISO Class 8 cleanroom, a 55-ton liquid silicone injection molder, a materials compounding extruder, autoclave sterilization, and injection molding machines that can handle up to 200 tons. The center can accommodate impact, moisture, creep and melt index testing along with circuit board prototyping and fabrication.

The grand opening begins with a reception at 3 p.m. Opening remarks will be held at 3:30 p.m., followed by tours of the facility. RSVP to Rhonda Steg, administrative support coordinator, at [email protected]. Reservations are encouraged.