Materials maker Techmer PM has added a major production line in Clinton, Tenn., to handle a growing market for large-scale 3D printing.
In a May 8 news release, officials with Clinton-based Techmer said the multi-million-dollar line is the latest investment in a public/private partnership that has involved close collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Techmer officially launched the new high-capacity, twin-screw line line with a May 7 ceremony at ORNL in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The announcement was made at the Advanced Manufacturing Summit, an event designed to showcase the Department of Energy's national labs. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee attended the event at guest speakers.
Techmer held a separate ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Clinton headquarters the same day for employees and local dignitaries.
"We're proud that this federal/private industry model is bringing a competitive edge to our industry and nation," said John Manuck, Techmer PM founder, chairman, and CEO. "Global competition is all about developing and applying new technologies in every industry sector."
Mauck added that Techmer "is pleased to be working closely with ORNL and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), both of which are playing critical roles in helping to complete this mission."
"IACMI is excited to support Techmer PM's leadership in additive manufacturing materials through collaborative technical projects within our community of industry members, universities, and national laboratories," IACMI CEO John Hopkins said in the release.
Techmer began working with ORNL in 2013 with collaboration on a carbon fiber project. That work quickly developed into joint research and development on the emerging technology of large-part 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing.
Additional work has involved academia, machinery makers Cincinnati Inc., Thermwood Corp., and Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., and other key members of the supply chain.
Techmer officials said that the 3D market "has grown sharply" in recent years, with early-adopter OEMs — including companies in aerospace, military, construction, and automotive — "fueling the explosion."
To satisfy this growth, the 3D/additive manufacturing sector needed more specialized engineered materials. Techmer PM "was all-in" on partnering with these companies to make that happen, officials said.
"ORNL's research partnership with Techmer has produced exceptional scientific achievements in advanced materials and manufacturing," said Moe Khaleel, ORNL associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Sciences. "We are pleased to see these innovations result in real impact on the local and state economy as the company expands its production line in East Tennessee."
The new line will make high-quality, modified, carbon fiber-reinforced polymers to support growing demand for 3D printed products. Officials said that Techmer has added and will continue adding and training employees at all levels to support this growth.
Elsewhere for Techmer, the firm is adding a second work shift at its year-old compounding plant in Querétaro, Mexico. That 60,000-square-foot plant employs 30 and will add a second shift in the second quarter of 2019.
Techmer employs 650 and has annual sales of more than $200 million. The firm ranks as one of North America's 30 largest compounders and concentrate makers. Techmer has six facilities in the U.S. in addition to sites in Brazil, Germany and Mexico.
Earlier this year, Techmer was named to the Plastics News Best Places to Work list for 2019. It marks the fourth time since 2014 that Techmer has received that honor.