Sartorius Facts
Jul 18, 2023
| 5 min read

40 Years in Puerto Rico

A Close Look at Sartorius’ First International Production Site

View of the production building and tank farm with Sartorius logo, 1983/84


In 1983, 40 years ago, Sartorius opened its first international production site in Yauco, Puerto Rico. Over the following decades, it has developed into one of the most important sites for Sartorius, particularly in serving the North American market. Discover more about the history of this location.

This article is posted on Sartorius Blog.

International Focus Right from the Start 

Shortly after its founding in 1870 in the German university town of Göttingen, Sartorius was already active beyond its regional boundaries. During what economic history research refers to as the first period of globalization, the company participated in renowned exhibitions and also received international recognition, including prestigious awards for example at the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it was honored for its innovative short-beam analytical balance.

Cover of a trilingual product catalog from 1896, advertising the awards in the center (Philadelphia in the bottom row)


Around a hundred years later, with the onset of the so-called second period of globalization, Sartorius established its own sales companies, initially in other European countries, and in 1976 in the United States —the most important export market. In the late 1970s, plans were initiated to set up the company’s first production site outside of Germany. This led to the establishment of a membrane filter production facility in Yauco, Puerto Rico, which is an unincorporated U.S. territory.

Advertisement: "Sartorius. Subsidiaries of which we are proud.", 1982


A Gateway to the American Market

In Germany, Puerto Rico was not widely considered a major destination for investment at that time. Sartorius was among the pioneering German firms to open a production facility on the island. The decision was driven by various factors, with proximity to the important North American growth market and its customer base being a significant factor. Puerto Rico was seen as a gateway to the American market and not just "an island in the sun," as emphasized in a market research report. Additionally, Puerto Rico had established the world's first "Export Processing Zone" (a special economic zone) in 1947, making it an attractive location for greenfield investments due to its special economic development programs. Furthermore, the Göttingen site had reached its capacity limits in meeting the increasing demand for membrane filter production.

View of the construction site and north side of the building, 1983/84


A special feature of the investment was that it was originally made by the Sartorius family, who owned the company, with the Sartorius company acting as the general contractor. It was not until February 1990 that ownership of the site was transferred from the family to Sartorius.

Long-Term Thinking Pays Off: Puerto Rico as a Key Manufacturing and Logistics Site 

After the site officially opened in 1983, some challenges had to be overcome. These included adapting the casting machine, which is the heart of membrane filter production, to the tropical climate conditions, as well as organizational issues.

As these obstacles were left behind, the site developed into an important pillar of the Sartorius Group, particularly for the North American market: Today, Yauco serves as a key manufacturing and logistics site and has undergone continuous expansion in recent years.

In 2012, a new building with two clean rooms for the production of filters and sterile bags for biopharmaceutical applications as well as laboratories and offices was inaugurated. Seven years later, the site was expanded again with new production buildings, more than doubling the capacity for filters and bags and enabling significant production capacities for filter membranes.

In 2023, Sartorius commenced the production of cell culture media in powder form at the existing site. With production capacities for filters, bags, and cell culture media, the Yauco site now encompasses a significant portion of the Bioprocess Solutions Division product portfolio, assisting customers in the safe, rapid, and cost-effective manufacture of biotech medications and vaccines to provide better health for more people.

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