Solid expansion

Muskego-based InPro Corp., a manufacturer of products used for interior protection, decorative surfaces, patient privacy and related products in the health care industry, recently began manufacturing a new line of solid surface products in a 95,000-square-foot facility at 16875 W. Ryerson Road in New Berlin.

The company leased the space a year ago. Last fall, InPro moved its international sales and marketing teams into the facility, while a 30,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing floor was completed. This spring, the company began moving machinery and equipment into the space, and it recently began full-scale manufacturing of its Prism line of solid surface material there.

InPro acquired the Prism line through its December 2006 purchase of the solid surface and cultured marble lines created by Menomonee Falls-based Lippert Corp. The Prism line is similar to DuPont’s Corian solid surface line, which has been extensively used in medical and health care facilities around the world.

“DuPont is de-emphasizing its Corian line and is now emphasizing its cultured stone line,” said InPro spokesman Evan Bane. “We believe there is still a great market for solid surface and we’ll gladly move in and produce a great product for the marketplace.”

“We feel it fits into our niche of health care and commercial facilities,”

Prism is a solid surface that can be used for countertops, walls, flooring and other structural elements in health care facilities. Because it is a poured solid surface, the Prism sheets are highly non-porous, allowing for fast and thorough cleaning.

“They (the sheets of material) can be used in a floor-to-ceiling concept and could be used to cover an entire operating room,” said Glenn Kennedy, executive vice president of plant operations. “It can also be used for nursing stations, bathtub and shower surrounds, and any area in a clean room, clinic or day surgery center.”

DuPont currently produces its Corian line in three by 12 foot sheets – InPro’s Prism line makes its sheets in 4 by 12-foot sheets. The New Berlin pouring line has been designed for flexibility, allowing operators to pour custom-sized sheets for individual orders.

“With the flexibility of our line we can make virtually any size and our molds can be adjusted on the fly,” Kennedy said.

InPro has 36 employees in the New Berlin facility – 14 in marketing, seven in international sales and 15 in manufacturing. InPro has about 400 total employees.

The New Berlin facility is capable of hundreds of Prism sheets per shift with only three employees working on its line at a time because of the highly automated systems it has installed.

“All of the mixing is done automatically as well as the pouring,” Bane said. “This gives us a consistency with the pouring. Everything is digitally driven.”

An oven used to cure the sheets of Prism, as well as machinery to cut, plane and sand them are also automated. One employee essentially runs the entire production line, while another two assist with offloading finished sheets, trimming and planing.

Later this year, the company will begin manufacturing fire blankets for its expansion joint products at the New Berlin facility. By early 2010, it will also begin making InPro’s line of louvers, sun screens and decorative grills used on the exteriors of commercial buildings.

The New Berlin facility has a significant amount of space that will be left open for future expansion over the next few years, Kennedy said.

“I envision a second solid surface (production) line and more metal products coming out of this plant in the next five years,” he said. “I believe we will kick butt on solid surface.”

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