Westminster Tool Inc. and PTA Corp. are among six Connecticut businesses awarded $100,000 each to adopt 3D printing for their manufacturing operations.
The grants were issued by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology and the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund to support small and midsized manufacturers wanting to add new 3D printing equipment and capabilities to their processes.
The grant recipients will match the awards with equal or greater company funding as the state and its businesses position themselves as the go-to places for additive manufacturing processes that are rapidly changing the way companies design and manufacture products.
"Connecticut is the Silicon Valley of advanced manufacturing, plain and simple," Gov. Ned Lamont said at a recent award event. "These grants will help our brilliant manufacturers across the state continue to innovate, building bigger, faster and more complex machines that drive our state, country and the world further into the 21st century."
Plainfield-based Westminster Tool has been researching metal additive applications specific to the injection mold industry with Mantle Inc.
Oxford-based PTA, which does business as PTA Plastics, has been investing in Industry 4.0 technology designed to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Connecticut lawmakers approved $20 million for MIF to support these kind of endeavors for a two-year period.
The grants are part of the Additive Manufacturing Adoption Program launched in 2020 for manufacturers and allied service providers to enhance their operations additive technologies with high-end 3D plastic and metal printers to produce functional parts and tooling.
With additive manufacturing, components that could not be produced just a few years ago can now be made to high standards using a variety of plastics and metals. The process significantly reduces material waste, lead time, inventory being held and the quantity of distinct parts needed for an assembly.
Westminster Tool has spent the last seven years exploring 3D printing applications. The company partnered with Mantle in 2020 to research metal additive applications specific to the injection mold industry.
Metal additive technology for tooling component manufacturing has the potential to yield major cost and lead time reductions while opening the door to new engineering opportunities for injection mold making, according to Westminster Tool Chief Financial Officer Colby Coombs.
"Our partnership with Mantle gives our team a unique opportunity to learn about the latest metal additive technology and as a result allow us to deliver innovative solutions to our customers," Coombs said in a news release.
Founded in 1997, Westminster designs and manufactures molds, produces injection molded thermoplastic and metallic components and provides mold systems for composite manufacturing methods. The company serves the medical, aerospace, defense, consumer packaging, automotive and industrial markets.
Westminster Tool officials are honored to receive the state grant, Coombs said.
"Connecticut has made it a priority to provide manufacturers with the support they need to adopt advanced technology," he added. "This program is another great example of how Connecticut helps drive manufacturing forward."
The other grant recipient with ties to the industry is PTA Plastics, an employee-owned company founded in 1953 that offers in-house mold making, injection molding, specialty molding and process validation for the medical, defense, security and emerging technologies industries.
Two years ago, company officials adopted "PTA 2030" to plan for and invest in the technology, skills and experts needed not only for Industry 4.0 but Industry 5.0.
Additive manufacturing technologies continue to advance at an accelerated rate, Ron Angelo, president and CEO of CCAT, said in a news release about the grants.
"Supporting the adoption of AM technology throughout the Connecticut supply chain is vital to sustaining the advanced technical capabilities Connecticut is known for," Angelo said. "It is exciting to see the level of interest and commitment by Connecticut manufacturers to investing in leading-edge technology."
The other grant recipients are Accurate Lock and Hardware Co. LLC in Stamford, Beacon Industries Inc. in Newington, Burke Aerospace in Farmington and Okay Industries Inc. in New Britain.