Mar-Lee Companies define plastics industry’s cutting edge
LEOMINSTER, Mass., September 8, 2008—A local plastics firm may be readily identified by its consumer packaging—from adjustable fluid spray straws to baby-wipe containers—but the really exciting products are the ones you’ll never see [unless you’re a surgeon]: medical implants made from “biopolymers.”
Mar-Lee Companies, Inc., is a modern-day pioneer in a region where the nation’s plastics industry evolved [North Central Massachusetts]
Mar-Lee customers include medical device companies, producers of consumer goods and other OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]
He points out, for example, that Mar-Lee, “has gained a huge advantage with the use of new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software from IQMS… With roots in the plastics manufacturing industry, IQMS stood out among its competitors because of its experience and plastics specialization.”
“Over the course of the last few months,” Mr. Gravelle adds, “the IQMS system has been perfected and precisely coordinated to fit specific Mar-Lee needs. Data is automatically tracked from live workcells to control inventory and production schedules. Sales and distribution have been consolidated, and comprehensive reports can answer inquiries about the status of orders. IQMS's ERP software has enabled Mar-Lee to consolidate and improve many of its processes, and will continue to translate into customer benefits.”
However, the real excitement at Mar-Lee, he admits, is in its Medical Division, which specializes in the molding of bio-absorbable materials including Polylactic Acid (PLA) and other similar biomedical resins. “PLA,” he explains, “is a biopolymer made from renewable, natural sources such as corn-starch and sugarcane… polylactic acid can be used in place of petroleum-based polymers.”
There are many applications for this material, including the fairly common absorbable suture, as well as absorbable bone screws and anchors for fixation devices and soft tissue re-attachment. Other applications include implantable stents, devices used in fusion, and structural based applications for the spine and maxillofacial surgical applications. Bioresorbable products offer advantages over the traditional metallic implants because this material provides biomechanical stability with eventual re-absorption, reducing many of the risks posed by traditional components, including loosening, imaging interference, and implant migration/failure requiring surgical absorption removal or replacement.
Mr. Gravelle notes, “Mar-Lee Medical began with bio-absorbable applications and we continue to use our processing knowledge and PLA expertise to produce components for a number of challenging clinical areas. We are actively teaming up with the producers of these specialty resins to improve the usability of these materials – our goal is to enable our partners to use bio-resins in an increasing number of applications as soon as they become technologically possible.”
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