Maple Grove’s LightningCath Sees Significant Growth in Custom Medical Device Manufacturing
The Twin Cities northwest suburbs, considered the heart of medical alley, has a new medical device manufacturer that aims to help fill an unmet need.
LightningCath, located in a 20,000-square-foot facility in Maple Grove, specializes in developing custom catheters for a wide array of medical needs at lightning speed. In the medical world, that would be just a few days.
“There’s been a big need in the medical industry for doctors, small medical device companies that need help with their devices, building it, quick turns. And that’s where we come into play,” said Matt Osten, co-founder of LightningCath.
LightningCath is an offshoot of Switchback Medical, which used to be located in the same building. Switchback Medical has since relocated to a larger facility in Brooklyn Park. Whereas Switchback Medical focuses on developing devices for larger clients, LightningCath focuses on smaller requests from doctors and entrepreneurs that otherwise might not be able to make it to market.
“We’ve been getting calls every week,” said Ryan Um, engineering manager with LightningCath. “Sometimes we can take an existing idea and improve it. Sometimes a doctor will come up with something brilliant.”
LightningCath Products Built Under a Microscope
Not only are products developed on a small scale, they are built under a microscope.
Tubing used to make minimally invasive catheters for nearly every part of the body — from the leg to the brain — are measured in extremely small dimensions. In catheter lingo, they’re measured in Frenches.
“As far as dimensions that we make, if we’re going to the brain or the heart, the range is about 10/1,000 of an inch, .01 inches, up to a half inch, and a human hair is about 3/1,000 of an inch,” explained Osten.
LightningCath doesn’t have to outsource the manufacturing. Both the design and the development are done in house.
“We don’t need to call that bigger shop and wait,” said Um.
Manufacturing that could take weeks is cut down to days at LightningCath. The company expects to ship up to 20,000 devices a month.
“It’s a lot of small volumes, then those eventually grow,” Osten said.
In just six months, company revenue projects to be a multimillion dollar business. The company, which currently has six employees, also has plans to grow its workforce. Osten said the strength of the Twin Cities medical community will play a role in that.
“It’s such a great, wonderful hub here in the Twin Cities,” described Osten. “It’s infectious.”