Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2001

Grant aids M-PACT to eye new market

May 24, 2001

M-PACT Worldwide Inc. of Eudora recently received a $63,000 grant from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) to fund production of its new sponges.

M -Pact is concentrating on a new market, using technology it developed for medical sponges used in eye surgeries.

M-PACT currently makes sponges using a die-cutting process, but the new sponges will be made by pouring the material into a cast. By using the die-cut process, lint and fiber debris is created during production.

Jim Martin, M-PACT president, said the new process would help eliminate the waste of the process, which can affect surgical procedures.

"It's significant in that this is the primary tool that actually comes into contact with the eye surface during a whole variety of (eye) procedures," Martin said. "Consequently, there is no cutting to get to the final product and because the cutting process is inherently dirty ,it cuts down on the waste."

Martin suspected the new sponges would be used by physicians who administer LASIK surgery, a corrective vision procedure.

"It's pretty common and kind of a trendy surgical procedure in the U.S. It's growing rapidly in the U.S.," he said. "Internationally it's just beginning."

Martin said between 60 to 70 percent of M-PACT's business for the product will is outside the United States. With the LASIK procedure being more popular, Martin said, he hopes to have a new foothold in the domestic market.

"This will give us a nice niche in the U.S. market that we haven't had ," he said.

Production of the new sponges is expected begin within the next few months for commercial sales.

"The process is way down the path, if you will," Martin said. "We're building the production equipment now. By the middle of the summer, we'll be making product."

M-PACT has close to 125 employees and the production of the new sponges is expected to create a few more jobs in the future, presumably after September, Martin said.

M-PACT also manufactures other medical supplies such as products for use in splints, casts and other surgical procedures.

The funds available through KTEC are part of its Applied Research Matching Fund program. The program helps Kansas companies with research and development of new technology or products. The goal of the program is to increase sales for a company and help create jobs for Kansans.

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