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Photo by Dave Flessner / Confluent Medical Technologies took over the former Mahindra Tractor plant in the Chattanooga Riverport industrial park last year. After renovating the 46,300-square-foot facility, production began last month on medical tubing equipment used in catheters and other medical devices.

Production has begun at a new medical tubing plant in Chattanooga where officials hope to grow the business to more than 80 employees within the next four years.

Confluent Medical Technologies, a medical device maker which already operates a half dozen facilities across the United States and Costa Rica, took over the former Mahindra Tractor plant in the Riverport South Industrial Park last year and is investing $8.3 million to upgrade the 46,300-square-foot facility to produce medical devices and tubing used in the growing field of non-invasive heart and other cardiovascular treatments.

Confluent produces medical tubing, textiles and other devices for makers of stints, catheters, balloons and guidewires.

"Having a strong manufacturing location here in the U.S. is vital to supporting our growing customer base," said Dean Schauer, CEO of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Confluent. "Combine this new site's capabilities with our complex catheter offerings out of our Austin, Texas site and you have a powerful partner in Confluent Medical to assist with your catheter shaft needs."

Confluent chose to locate in the 7-year-old former tractor plant because of its 24-foot high ceilings needed for the ovens used to make the medical tubing, the local talent familiar with Filmcast production technology and the incentives offered by the state of Tennessee to help lure the medical equipment maker to Chattanooga.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who announced the deal to bring Confluent to the Riverport site last December, said the state will provide $750,000 of assistance if the company fulfills its commitment to invest over $8 million and create over 80 jobs by 2025. Lee said landing Confluent's production plant in Chattanooga "reinforces our reputation as a top state in the medical research and life sciences industry."

About Confluent Medical Technologies

Started: 2016

Annual sales: $250 million

Staff: 1,700, including 15 in Chattanooga

Products: Precision alloy tubing, medical catheter systems, balloon catheters, biomedical textiles

Patents: More than 120

Chattanooga facility: Located on Riverside Lane in the Chattanooga Riverport industrial park, the 46,300-square-foot warehouse and plant will initially use Filmcast technology to make medical tubes used in catheters. The company plans to spend $8.3 million and have more than 80 employees within five years.

Other Locations: Scottsdale, Arizona (headquarters); Austin, Texas (R&D center), Fremont, California; Laguna Niguel, California; Windham, Maine; Warwick, Rhode Island; Costa Rica

Source: Confluent Medical

 

 

Jill Ellison, vice president of operations at Confluent who oversees the Chattanooga and California plants for the company, said the 10.2-acre Chattanooga site also has room for the company to expand in future years.

"We're very excited to be in this area and to have the talent we have put together for this facility," she said. "We see a lot of opportunity for growth here."

Confluent will soon begin adding so-called clean rooms for more production and the new ISO 13485 certification for medical device manufacturing, which will be conducted next month.

The initial 15 employees hired by Confluent to start up the plant have more than 175 years of experience in the medical science industry.

Shane Wood, the plant engineering manager, and Ben Kegley, the manufacturing engineer, came to Confluent from Integer Holdings, which pioneered the Filmcast production technology for medical tubing in Trenton, Georgia.

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Confluent Medical

"As the medical market moves to devices with higher quality standards, we're doing some things here with regards to touchless processing that our competitors are not and working on processes that will allow us to put out higher quality products faster than our competitors," Wood said. "This new venture gives us some real opportunities as engineers to design better systems."

Confluent specializes in vascular implantable Nitinol, implantable textiles, balloon catheters and complex catheters. The capabilities of this new location include PTFE liners, polyimide tubing, multi-layer composite tubing (braided and non-braided), and coated wire.

With the addition of Filmcast technology, Confluent strengthens its vertically integrated supply chain by offering thin-walled, tightly tolerant engineered tubing.

"We are excited to provide our customers the best lead times within the medical polymer tubing industry," Shauer said.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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