Inventors and companies now are able to make sample quantities of new plastics materials - enough to test or mold into parts - and produce new monomers at a new pilot plant run by Ohio Polymer Enterprise Development Inc.
OPED is trying to help manufacturers start in Ohio by using polymers created at Ohio universities and government labs, such as NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus and Dayton's Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
According to OPED, research laboratories often are not equipped to make sample quantities for extensive testing. The pilot plant opened last year at OPED's headquarters, which is housed in Omnova Solutions Inc.'s Akron research complex. It includes five reactors, in sizes of 1, 15 and 50 liters, made from glass and Teflon-coated stainless steel.
``We can make prototype quantities so that you can injection mold or you can extrude parts,'' said Ronald Clark, president and executive director of OPED. The lab also can generate process and economic data to help firms decide whether to go into commercial production, he said.
The pilot plant is run by some high-powered technical talent, including four veterans who have combined operating experience of 100 years at BFGoodrich Performance Materials (now Noveon Inc.) and GenCorp Inc. They are Parely Lane, Steve Conover, Ken Miksch and Harlan Jewitt.
Clark said more than 60 firms have commercialized products since its 2001 founding.
OPED also continues to host meetings that link venture-capital firms with Ohio inventors.
The goal, Clark said, is to foster new companies that each will generate at least $2 million in sales and employ 20 five years after they start.