Overcoming the Challenges of Converting Transdermal Patches to Realize Big Profits
One of IMPACT’s long-time healthcare customers—a medical converter—regularly performed complex medical converting of a variety of materials, including hypoallergenic medical tapes, films, non-woven fabrics, foams and other flexible materials used in the production of medical devices, equipment and skin contact application.
With this experience, they felt confident pursuing their first transdermal product.
Transdermal patches are designed to deliver an active ingredient through the skin. They are comprised of a liner, drug or controlled substance, adhesive, membrane, and backing. The choice of backing materials influences the delivery profile, adhesion, and wearability of the patch—and converting process requires slitting, layering, laminating, precision die-cutting, and packaging the finished product.
Working with a controlled substance material for the first time, the converter’s engineering team designed a die layout with extremely close nesting to minimize waste, because waste disposal of a controlled substance was the highest cost of the entire job. After the die vendor manufactured the die to spec and they began running the job, the die didn’t work. They experienced two critical issues they couldn’t resolve:
- Ragged cuts, which couldn’t even be resolved at slower than required press speed, and;
- Excess part rejection, meaning extreme unplanned controlled substance waste.
Taken together, this meant what had started as a highly profitable project quickly turned negative. The converter reached out to the product manufacturer 3M for help, who suggested they contact IMPACT because of familiarity with the material.
The IMPACT Engineering team went to work on the challenge. Our familiarity with the material and the firm’s Caulder press helped us identify the issue and develop a solution. Evaluating the die layout and planned press speed, the IMPACT technical team recommended two primary modifications:
- Reconfiguring the die layout to eliminate parts being cut simultaneously across the entire width of the die; this allows increased press speeds while maintaining part quality. While parts are farther spaced, the calculated yield increased.
- Machine sharpening to produce unparalleled consistency and uniformity of blades, further enhancing part quality with tight-tolerance materials with the added benefit of equal wear across the die, enhancing die life.
Because of the unconventional layout, IMPACT guaranteed the converter that if the die didn’t perform as expected, they could return the die for a refund.
IMPACT sent a technical representative to be on-hand at the converter for the die’s initial run. The job ran flawlessly. The parts were on-spec. The press operator and production manager were amazed that by the end of the first shift, yield surpassed the converter’s original projections by 17%. Best of all, the costly waste was reduced by over 10%, saving money and also mitigating risk the waste material could be disposed of improperly by mistake.
“With IMPACT Converting Systems & Solutions as our die partner, we’re aggressively going after even more challenging medical work,” the firm’s head of New Product Development told Rich Seeley, president of IMPACT. Sharing more of the good news with Rich, he continued, “Our profitability on this job not only beat projections, but it’s our most profitable job by far.”
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