Cie. de Saint-Gobain is investing $15 million to expand its research and development center in Northborough, Mass., with additional laboratory, office and meeting space. It is expected to be completed in early 2009.
The site is already the largest of the firm's four worldwide research centers and specializes in building materials, plastics, ceramics and abrasives. It also researches ways to promote energy efficiency in buildings.
Saint-Gobain will add more than 61,000 square feet of space to the center, which will provide room for 160 employees now in temporary trailers. Also, 30 new jobs will be added, boosting the total number of workers there to 340.
The addition is being made with Saint-Gobain's own building products and will carry a silver rating assigned by the U.S. Building Council, based on a high level of energy efficiency and environmental performance.
R&D in Northborough related to performance plastics consists of nearly 50 people supporting new product and process development worldwide, according to spokesman Bill Seiberlich.
Most of that R&D work is concentrated on high-performance and engineered plastics such as fluoropolymers, polyimide, polyetheretherketone, silicone, polyurethane, polyamide and new material formulations where high purity, low extractable content and long-term environmental stability are required, according to Seiberlich.
He said there are many new developments, including multilayer fluoropolymer elastomer films used as highly flexible release liners for semiconductor processing and aerospace applications.
He also cited fluoropolymer-based films and PU foams used to encapsulate and protect photovoltaic cells from the environment; and silicone formulations bonded to substrates for use in fluoropolymer-lined pumping tubes and hose for biopharma and fluid handling.
The Northborough center has engaged in materials research since 1985. Saint-Gobain acquired it in 1990 as part of Worcester, Mass.-based Norton Co. In 2003, the site became Saint-Gobain's main research location for high-performance plastics and abrasives. Its other R&D centers are in Aubervilliers and Cavaillon, France; and Shanghai.