Portugal has a storied moldmaking tradition that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when companies in the town of Marinha Grande, about 95 miles north of Lisbon, started manufacturing molds for glassware rather than importing them. After World War II, plastic injection molds gained a foothold and, with the inevitable ups and downs, that has continued ever since. Automotive OEMs have been reliable customers; medical device manufacturers, not so much. Muroplás, located in Muro-Trofa, about 130 miles north of Marinha Grande, is the exception that proves the rule.
Founded in 1989, Muroplás initially produced precision parts for the automotive industry. Shortly after setting up shop, however, "domestic companies that needed components for infusion systems challenged us to produce parts," says Dinis Baptista, International Sales/Information Systems. The company never looked back, and has been a national pioneer in plastic injection molding for medical device OEMs since the 1990s. Medical technology applications now represent 90% of the company's business, and it has cemented its reputation by investing in R&D and new technologies, and embracing change.
Unlike many molding companies in Portugal, which historically have tended to specialize in specific activities—tooling design, polishing, the fabrication of precision molds, and so forth—Muroplás chose to invest in its own machining department and build molds as well as provide injection molding services.