CLEVELAND - Despite the dawning of a new era of budget cutting in Washington and around the nation, one valuable program for the plastics industry, like the industry itself, is healthy. The Plastics Technology Deployment Center, a joint program of the Cleveland Advanced Manufacturing Program, a nonprofit organization for helping manufacturing, and Penn State University at Erie, Pa., is continuing to provide needed assistance to plastics companies. Both CAMP and Penn State Erie exhibited at Plastics Fair Cleveland, held June 13-15.
The center, funded through a $2.8 million grant from the federal Technology Reinvestment Project, is a one-stop, full-service program providing education, technology and management services to plastics and plastics-related companies.
``Funding is secure through March of 1996, when it will enter a review period,'' said David Thomas-Greaves, manager of outreach programs for CAMP. ``We are confident that funding will continue after review, because we will be able to demonstrate effectiveness.''
Through the center, companies can get help with problems in engineering, such as product and tool analysis, material selection, rapid prototyping, computer-aided design and software selection, and training. The center also provides help with process optimization, primary and secondary equipment selection, plant layout, business and material management, planning, quality assurance, market analysis, and technical data searches.
Thomas-Greaves estimated about 41,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, and another 100,000 in Ohio, depend in some way on the plastics industry. He said both states have identified plastics as critical to the growth of their economies.
``We wanted to share CAMP's outreach techniques and engineering resources, with companies in northwestern Pennsylvania as well as northeastern Ohio,'' he said. ``This was a great opportunity.''
The center uses the resources of Penn State Erie for engineering problem-solving, while CAMP provides manufacturing help, and the Edison Polymer Innovation Corp., like CAMP, one of Ohio's Edison technology centers, for materials and material processing assistance. EPIC works through the polymer research departments at the University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Dayton's Research Institute on developing advanced processing techniques and polymer research.
Thomas-Greaves said the center is part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and has been challenged by the national group to examine the possibility of becoming a resource for other manufacturing extension centers nationwide.
``Our first and foremost goal is to provide quality service to the manufacturers in our region,'' he said. ``But it is something we will look at.''