Netstal Machines Enable Lights Out Production of Coronavirus Antibody Tests
Coronavirus antibody test kits for Roche will be mass produced at an annual rate of 230 million units using three Netstal machines to clean room mold cups, pipette tips and racks to hold them.
As the global response to the Covid-19 outbreak transitions from the initial rush to create personal protective equipment and components for life-saving systems like ventilators, a new similarly urgent emphasis is being applied to the creation of test kits.
KraussMaffei reports that its Netstal machine brand is currently engaged in the supply of all-electric Elion injection molding machines to help several unnamed “leading medical technology manufacturers” mass produce coronavirus antibody test kits for Roche. Consisting of 84 disposable pipette tips and 84 reaction cups which are housed in a rack, the kits are molded, assembled and packaged within a clean room.
The pipette tips are molded in a conductive PP from a 64-cavity tool on a Netstal Elion 1200-530, while the cups are also produced in PP from a 64-cavity tool running on a Netstal Elion 1750-530. Both tools utilize hotrunners for melt delivery. These two machines subsequently feed an assembly and inspection area featuring in-line camera quality control, automated cup and pipette placement and transport-ready packaging of the finished kits.
The racks which hold the pipettes and cups are molded in a 2+2 stack mold on an adjacent Netstal Elion with a clamping force of 2,200 kN. These racks are fed into the automated system to receive the pipette tips and cups, for 24/7 continuous production. Netstal says the cell’s design was able to double production output utilizing half the cleanroom’s footprint.
A spokesperson declined to say who provided the tooling or what company is molding the kits but did say that 80% of the production is occurring in Europe (Switzerland and Germany) with the remaining production in China.
The coronavirus antibody test kits feature 84 cups, 84 pipette tips and a rack to hold both—all of which are molded on Netstal Elion all-electric injection molding machines.
Many conditions must be met to get the best wall distribution in a PET bottle. Skilled operators are, as always, indispensable.
Next month’s mammoth triennial plastics show in Düsseldorf, Germany, challenges injection molding machine builders to demonstrate technological leadership in addressing the needs of the marketplace.
One of the first applications for blow molded HDPE bottles was the replacement of glass for bleach packaging.