Spectralytics has completed a dedicated product development center in Maple Plain, Minn. to speed delivery of prototypes to customers and free up the production lines in its other facilities.
Spectralytics’ two existing plants in Dassel, Minn., 55 miles west of the Twin Cities, offer laser cutting, welding, drilling, ablation, marking, electropolishing, assembly, and engineering services for cardiovascular, neurovascular, drug delivery and orthopedic applications. The company opened the development center to provide design validation and quick-turn prototypes. Its equipment and laser technicians can accommodate two-to-five-day lead times for prototypes, depending upon the project and material, according to company president Jim Bartel.
“Our customers were really demanding this service, kind of a prototyping, quick-turn on simple parts, not really complex designs,” Bartel said. “They’re trying to go through that early R&D process very fast. The pressure on our customers and the med device manufacturers today is intense and the pressure to get things turned around quickly is intense.”
Having a dedicated development center also means freeing up manufacturing time at Spectralytics’ other facilities, where the production line used to stop to fit in prototype fabrication. Sharing production equipment also led to longer lead and turnaround times for prototyping customers.
The Maple Plain building previously housed a medtech company, and already had two clean rooms. Spectralytics updated some of the infrastructure and HVAC systems in order to apply for the rooms’ Class 10,000 certification. The company also renovated the front office area with glass walls to provide a more open look and a welcoming, collaborative atmosphere.
“We really want customers to come in and hang out in our conference room and work directly on the production floor with our technicians and our staff and go through that product iteration process,” Bartel said. “We encourage them to come, camp out at our place. We’ll feed them coffee all day long.”
Spectralytics did a “soft opening” of the development center in February, and it became fully operational in July. The company transferred three employees from Dassel, hired two more and have three more open positions in Maple Plain.
The 15,000-square-foot building is located 35 miles closer to Minnesota’s medtech hub than the company’s other facilities. Many of Spectralytics’ customers are from northern and southern California, but about 80% of its “camp-outers” so far have been Minnesota-based, according to Bartel.
“We’re trying to improve and increase our market share in our own backyard,” Bartel said. “We’re saying bring it on. We want and can handle the prototyping orders and that kind of volume which is going to be 5-10 parts per order and we can do them fairly quickly.
“We’re already seeing that help us and help our customers,” he added. “The early indicators are really good.”
The company is owned by Cretex Medical of Coon Rapids, Minn.