Ulbrich Specialty Wire Products (USWP), located in Westminster, South Carolina, is equipped for rolling, drawing, annealing, straightening and winding of a variety of round, flat and square precision wire products for the global medical device industry. These fine wire and ultra fine wire products are predominately used for surgical and minimally-invasive applications in hospitals and medical clinics throughout the world. These wire products are rewarding to produce, yet some of the most difficult to draw, roll and anneal out of any products that Ulbrich offers. Fortunately, our USWP “focus factory” (factory within a factory) dedicates talented machine operators, technicians, engineers, and product managers along with state-of-the-art equipment to produce these precision metals to standards of the highly-regulated medical device industry. USWP is on the technological forefront of medical wire products, delivering precision to an increasingly competitive, diversified and globalized marketplace.
Achieving excellence as a supplier to the medical device sector requires USWP to encompass a wide array of technical support throughout its organization. A comprehensive range of expertise in material science and mechanical engineering provides customers with a platform to solve real-world problems. These solutions demand exacting specifications and supreme quality assurance. USWP has developed a reputation for reliability as a respected supplier to the medical device industry for the past 15 years.
Thanks to a devoted and experienced team, Ulbrich’s South Carolina division has increased its presence at many major medical device OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). In January of this year, USWP became an approved supplier at one of the largest and most successful medical device manufacturers in the world. Recently, USWP has also obtained a significant amount of business from another prominent company in the medical device industry.
When it comes to the manufacturing of medical wire at USWP, creating value and assuring quality for customers is all about attention to detail. Fine Wire Operators are knowledgeable specialists who exact products to the sharpest of details. As they are at all Ulbrich divisions, mill operators are essential to USWP’s medical wire processing. These are the people operating high performance equipment to attain demanding results on a daily basis. Every order, every heat, every spool and every pass requires scrupulous care and consideration. Operators are also on the front lines of identifying any quality issues that may occur.
A Total Commitment to Quality at USWP means finished material needs to be within the correct tolerances and contamination-free 100% of the time. An Ulbrich employee noted that “operators, maintenance, engineers and managers always take any kind of material defect seriously. We make sure any debris on material is dealt with through various cleaning methods. We filter water in our machines to remove chlorine which can cause rust and corrosion. Lastly it’s important for us and our customers to keep the production area clean and hazard-free.” the employee continued, “In the rare event that a customer claim does happen, we thoroughly test samples in-house and at Clemson University with help from our co-op student interns.” The lengths that USWP goes to for the sake of clean and quality medical wire products is extensive.
Brad, Medical Mill Lead at USWP, also provided his expertise on the subject saying, “When we buy and receive incoming material, we confirm its quality. From mechanical wipes on the production floor, to the Material Science lab of the Clemson Tigers, USWP is implementing its commitment to quality medical wire products.
Moreover, the quality of these precision wires is a key selling point for the USWP sales department. The first voice that medical device customers hear is that of an Inside Sales Representative at USWP, topnotch experts in their field. A new customer may call at any moment of the day from any time zone on Earth to request a quote or check in on a current sales order. For each order, USWP’s sales team is relied upon to communicate Ulbrich’s capabilities to the customer as well as the customer’s quality requirements to production. Sales and production staff have worked well together and the proof has been in the numbers.
Patrick, a manager at USWP, speaks gleefully about the profitability USWP has had as a supplier for the medical device industry: “Last year was a very good year for USWP’s Medical Product Line. We grew our business substainually in 2016 and are forecasting another strong year in 2017. Since USWP started in 2002 medical wire sales have averaged double digit growth for 15 years straight!”
Members of the USWP Sales team have done a great job building business relationships with established and as well as new customers. Randy, an Inside Sales Representative, recognizes his enjoyment in serving medical customers stating, “As medical wire sales representative, it has been fun watching our medical wire sales grow each year, while helping to develop new customers and building friendships along the way. I am very confident in selling the medical products we manufacture here, knowing the pride and effort that all of our team members put forth each day.”
According to USWP’s Sales Team, the following reasons have bolstered medical wire sales, in addition to a total commitment to quality:
1) Speed of Delivery
USWP strives for the very best lead-times in the metals industry. This includes production lead-times for custom orders, stocking programs for specific customers, and general stock for engineering and R&D products (trial orders). USWP focuses relentlessly on taking care of customers quickly and beating the lead-times of the competition.
2) Customer Responsiveness
At all levels of the organization, USWP takes pride in serving customers the way they want to be treated. USWP sales staff remain open-minded and flexible when receiving customer requests. This helps build long-term relationships and added value.
3) Supply Chain Management
USWP has developed key suppliers that support current and future business. Proactive investments in capacity “ahead” of actual customer needs, have created reliability and consistency for USWP medical device customers. Thanks to planning and inventory control, on-time performance is excellent.
USWP has done an incredible job in developing and gaining market share for its two main medical wire product lines. USWP has formed a Medical Wire Committee to develop the next generation of its two main medical wire products: Round and Flat Stainless Steel Braid Wire and Round Copper and Silver Plated Mandrel. As a capability-driven company, Ulbrich’s med-wire committee is researching new projects and production methods intended to further develop the product line. The South Carolina division is in great position to leverage the reputation that it has built to add new products/applications to its medical wire portfolio.
Ryan, Medical Product Manager at USWP nicely summarizes USWP’s relationship with the medical device industry and the excitement surrounding the potential for new products saying, “It is energizing and fulfilling to help support Ulbrich’s customers and this industry. As the technology in the medical device sector continues to innovate, our team at Ulbrich plays an active role in redefining our limitations every day and pushing beyond. I’m extremely proud to work for an organization that supports this type of market to help provide better technology for medical procedures.”
USWP Medical Wire Products
- Approximately 60% of USWP medical wire products are used for Braid Wire applications, 35% are Mandrel and 5% are specialty items.
- USWP supplies both round and flat wire for medical purposes
- The vast majority of the material is 304V (the “V” indicates vacuum melted material)
- Other alloys offered by USWP are 316L, 304L, MP35N, L605, BeCu172 and Nitinol;
- Typical rounds range from .001” round to .003” round;
- Typical flats are .0005” X .0025”, .0005” X .003”, .0007” X .003” .0007” X .005”, .001” X .003, .001” X .005”, .002”X .005” and .002” X .006”; and,
- Coil Re-enforced tubing: mostly 304V flats with common sizes being .003” X .009”, .003” X .010”, .004” X .010”, .004” X .012” and .004” X .016”.
- USWP provides both bare and silver plated copper for mandrel and extrusion applications;
- Size ranges from .010”round up to .120”round;
- USWP is encountering requests for specialty shaped mandrels; and,
- These mandrels are most often used to build a catheter tube.