High Precision Medical Pad Printing the TouchMark Style
Contact: Jennifer Dossee Nunes
The medical device manufacturing community has exceedingly stringent standards when it comes to printing on medical devices. Printing on medical devices not only requires a high degree of precision but special inks, processes, and equipment as well. Just where does an R&D engineer turn for this type of expertise? TouchMark of Hayward, CA has provided precision pad printing to high technology customers for more than 15 years.
Through strategic alliances, custom engineering capabilities and expertise in hard-to-print materials such as PTFE and Silicone, TouchMark has gained the confidence of medical device manufacturers. From textured and recessed surfaces to the adherence of medical-grade inks on materials of low surface energy, TouchMark's experienced team of technicians, chemists, and design engineers has taken the science of pad printing to a new level.
Headquartered in the Silicon Valley, TouchMark continues to meet the changing demands of the medical device, diagnostics, and consumer electronic industries through continual enhancement of its offerings. From pretreatment and material procurement through the print process to cleanroom assembly and packaging TouchMark is positioned for quick response to the critical requirements of its customer base.
Founded in 1992 primarily as a pad print equipment supply company, TouchMark quickly evolved into a pad print service company printing on marketing and specialty items. By 1993, the company expanded its market share and migrated to electronics, where Cisco and Gel-Pak became their fist large customers. Gel-Pak, a division of Delphon Industries and manufacturer of innovative gel-coated boxes, trays and films used for applications requiring maximum device protection during shipping, handling and processing, grew to one of TouchMark's largest customer- a strategic alliance that nearly a decade later, would prove to be pivotal to the company's future growth.
TouchMark continued to expand its pad print knowledge and in so doing developed its unique expertise in the printing on difficult substrates including recessed areas and 360 degree tubing and catheters. With this ability at hand, TouchMark began to pursue other niche markets, thus entering the high precision realm of medical device printing.
In 2006, as the supplier alliance between TouchMark and Gel-Pak continued to cultivate, Delphon Industries made the decision to purchase TouchMark as part of an ongoing strategy to merge innovative technologies in order to provide materials and services for high value technology components and leading-edge medical devices.
''With TouchMark's expertise in high quality pad printing on a wide variety of surfaces, we are able to offer our customers an even greater degree of customization for their unique packaging needs.'' stated Beacham. ''One of the reasons we (Gel-Pak) utilized TouchMark was for the company's strict adherence to quality- they guaranteed their work.''
High Precision Printing
Today, TouchMark provides customers with high-quality pad printing services in the medical device and diagnostics markets, with the core of its business focused on medical device printing. ''TouchMark's technology has been driven by device manufacturer's need for permanent medical grade ink adhesion on substrates with low surface energy such as PEEK, PEBAX, Delrin and Silicone'', says Jeanne Beacham.
''Medical printing is much more precise than most other areas of pad printing. Materials are more difficult to print,'' stated Beacham. ''Pre-treatment, high accuracy placement, and stringent testing are all a part of the requirements in the medical arena.'' TouchMark's custom equipment is optimized to meet the precision printing specifications for unique medical devices including those that require critical 360- degree markings. These markings are then tested to ensure high adhesion and that they will be impervious to sterilization techniques such as Ethylene Dioxide, Gamma Radiation, and Autoclave.
From hypo tubes, catheters, trocars, cannulas, shafts, and handles to sheaths and syringes, TouchMark prints critical medical devices with strict FDA specifications and critical certification timelines. TouchMark's design engineering staff and organic chemist work closely with customers in the research and development stages to ensure the proper materials are utilized for the job, thereby providing pad print solutions across a wide range of technical products. The company works with customers from the low-volume prototype phase through the production phase.
As a 9001:2000 ISO-certified company, TouchMark implements procedures to ensure quality control, including ink adhesion testing, print color matching, and certificates of conformances to all its customers.
In spring of 2007, TouchMark moved to a new state-of-the-art facility in close proximity to Gel-Pak - a strategic move that has been beneficial for both customers and employees alike. In addition to extra production space, the new high-tech facility houses new and customized machinery, including 24-inch G-2 printers, single-motion 360 degree catheter printers, MicroVu inspection systems and an expanded cleanroom manufacturing facility.
''TouchMark's cleanroom with temperature and humidity controlled environments is critical to assure there is no particulates. This is important not only for the device itself, such as with a catheter, valve, or syringe, but also, for the actual printing to achieve clear, precise markings,'' Beacham explained. Airflow is controlled through hepa filters and particles are always monitored. TouchMark employees must undergo procedures in order to enter the controlled area and wear gowns, caps, and booties so that they are not a source of contamination.
Often successful where others have failed, TouchMark has developed a strong expertise in the printing of parts with complex geometrics, including areas with small radius of curvature and raised surfaces. This is due, in part, to the company's multiple years of combined experience, proprietary equipment, in-house tooling/fixturing department, and high quality manufacturing processes. Providing a repeatable pad printing process where every part looks exactly how the designer intended always is the final goal at TouchMark. The company's success with printing complex geometries also has to do with the optimization of the pads in combination with the fixturing.
On the creative end, TouchMark's graphic design team works with its customers' engineering and marketing departments to produce desired artwork. From multi-colored company logos to 4-color prints on PDA keyboards to gradients and halftones, TouchMark's knowledge of inks and substrates ensures quality pad printing with accuracy and repeatability. Precision color matching and high accuracy print placement guarantee that critical alignment marks, matrix grids, part identification, locator prints, and logos are exactly where they need to be on the part.
Servicing customers and partnering with suppliers are not the only key alliance at TouchMark. Building strong alliances among its employees is equally as important. The company's employees are essential to its continued growth. It is imperative to that growth that they are offered opportunities as Delphon grows and acquires additional companies.
TouchMark, a division of Delphon Industries continues to pursue its focus in the medical device and electronic components industries, TouchMark plans to combine its years of expertise in hard-to -print surfaces, tooling design, and ink chemistry with its investment in clean room manufacturing and most importantly, its people, to take the company to the next level in pad printing- precisely on the TouchMark style.