Rožič Klemen, Head Of Commercial Department at Veplas Group
Carbon-fiber-based composite materials are used in the construction of almost every piece of hardware—from fuselages and landing gear to the wheels of a bicycle. Yet, one industry where experts foresee the greatest disruption due to composites is in medical device manufacturing. Currently valued at around $330 billion, a report by Lucintel depicts rapid growth due to innovations in composite technology and estimates that the medical device market will reach $409.5 billion by 2023. In an arena as fast-paced as this, it is important for companies to partner with organizations who share a zeal for innovation and are ready to evolve quickly. As one of the leading manufacturers of composite products in Europe for over 40 years, Veplas Group generates change at all levels of the company and strives to implement advanced composite technology in the creation of medical devices.
Veplas Group sets itself apart from its competitors as one of the few composite producers that can offer customers the complete package for medical device production. “While the market is saturated with small producers of laminates, Veplas’ extensive operations include the construction and reengineering of composites, the final product assembly, and its delivery to the customer,” says Klemen Rozic, Head Of Commercial Department at Veplas Group. As an OEM of medical devices, Veplas’ core medical products are medical bathtubs—with an annual production volume of over 3000 units. These are designed to provide patients with better mobility, with the reclining baths offering therapeutic benefits. The company also produces composite parts for devices used in disinfection, rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, and other fields of medicine. In recent times, Veplas Group has been focused on the development of new, lightweight Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) based on foaming resin and autoclave technology to consolidate its presence in the market.
RTM is repeatable, more environment-friendly, and produces higher annual volumes than hand lay up methods.
Although RTM requires a more significant investment in moulds, the finished product is more competitive in price and yields a better surface. Veplas Group also uses autoclave technology to manufacture various parts for the aerospace, automotive, and ballistics industries. It is further used to create extra light carbon parts for medical appliances on a smaller scale. “The competitive advantage and value lie in the products that are not easy to manufacture, but are of superior quality than many other competitors,” says Boris Fosnaric, MSc and Technical Sector Manager.
Veplas’ extensive operations include the construction and reengineering of composites, the final product assembly, and its delivery to the customer
With production plants situated in the quaint and beautiful Saleska Valley in Central Europe, Veplas’ longstanding history in the manufacturing industry is marked by equally striking milestones in innovation. Starting in 1978 with the merger of two companies, the organization quickly modernized to become the leading manufacturer of composite materials in Slovenia by 2006. Ten years later, Veplas Group gained FDA approval as a producer of medical devices. “Veplas’ business growth has been significant in recent years, and takes into account the strengthening of various levels in the company to ensure holistic development,” adds Helena Sumah Zalubersek, MSc and Executive Director. Over several years of medical device production, the company has gained the QMS UNI EN ISO 9001:2015 certificate, and the QMS certificate for manufacturing Medical Devices and their Electrical Moving Structures (MSZ EN ISO 13485:2016).
Veplas Group is highly export-oriented, and as such, continuously monitors trends in the development of composite technologies worldwide. Gregor Vedenik, PhD and Executive Director says, “Veplas generates constant changes at all levels of the company and this is then the basis for innovative, advanced solutions in the production of composite products, which are eventually implemented in medical devices.” Depending on the customers’ needs, the organization is very flexible in its manufacture of toolings (moulds, jigs, transport racks) and complex composite products. With a multitude of sophisticated manufacturing technology already under its belt, Veplas Group aims to become an internationally recognized manufacturer of hitech composites for the medical, motorhome, and aerospace industries.