LIFT Center nearly complete, looking for manufacturers

The Long Island Forum for Technology's (LIFT) Composite Prototyping Center is accepting Long Island manufacturers interested in learning more about composite materials and methods.

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The Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT, www.lift.org) announced that its Composite Prototyping Center (Plainview, NY) is now well on its way to accepting Long Island manufacturers interested in accessing its leading-edge technologies, education and training programs, as well as composite contract opportunities being offered by the primes involved in manufacturing with composite materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass and aramid. According to LIFT executive director and interim president Bill Wahlig, the Center’s 25,000 square foot facility with a 20 foot ceiling is fully constructed with heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems installed, and most of its process equipment in place or being installed. The Composite Prototyping Center’s project manager Philip M. Coniglio elaborated: “At this time, the automated fiber placement robot system has been installed. Our 3D printer is in the process of being installed, and all other core process systems are scheduled for delivery in January and installation in February,” said Coniglio. “This includes an automated single-ply cutting system, autoclaves, presses and ovens.”

He adds  “A 1,200 square foot Class 100,000 clean room will be completed in February as well.” Also included in the clean room will be a machine shop for post machining and tool design, environmentally-controlled test and inspection cells, and storage area with walk-in freezers.”

Another important component of the LIFT Composite Prototyping Center is its dedicated training room equipped with CAD/CAM composite software. The Center’s training programs, intended for design, engineering and technology professionals, will focus on composite material, handling, design and manufacturing. The Center is also working with Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University of New York to develop multi-level curricula inclusive of certificate and degree program in advanced composite technologies.

LIFT’s Composite Prototyping Center is in direct line with the National Science & Technology Council’s “National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing.” Industry research and economic indicators all point to the need for and increased demand for manufacturers capable of producing products and components made of composite materials, which offer many important advantages over conventional materials. Chief among them are their high strength-to-weight ratios (light weight); durability; flexibility; impact, abrasion and corrosion resistance; thermal conductivity; low electrical conductivity; thermal and acoustical insulation; and visual attractiveness. These benefits make manufacturing with composites more economically feasible and profitable for manufacturers and customers alike. For small to mid-size manufacturers, becoming proficient in composite manufacturing gives them the opportunity to participate in lucrative prime contracts for which composites are specified, clearly a growth market.

Many Long Island manufacturers and industry leaders believe LIFT’s Composite Prototyping Center will serve as a vital catalyst to help the Long Island region recapture the stature it once had decades ago when area defense contractors were undisputed global manufacturer leaders.

Alexander Bozza, president of Russell Plastics Technology Company, Inc. (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) noted that "As a leading manufacturer and supplier of composite products primarily for the aerospace and military markets, we at Russell Plastics already recognize the enormous opportunities that lie ahead in advanced materials manufacturing. What LIFT has done in developing this dedicated composites resource is give our region’s manufacturers both the incentives and seamless entry to capture those opportunities.”

 “There is no question that the Composite Prototyping Center will be a tremendous asset to Long Island’s manufacturing community and, more broadly, the region’s economy,” says Peter Rettaliata, president and CEO of Air Industries Group and its wholly-owned subsidiary Air Industries Machining Corp (Bay Shore, N.Y.), a leading manufacturer of aircraft structural parts and assemblies for most of the prime contractors in the aerospace industry, one of the industries heavily involved in the use of composites in their manufacturing processes. “By providing the technology, equipment and training, it removes any barriers to entry into composites that may have existed for the smaller manufacturers.”

Long Island manufacturers interested in learning more about how their companies can gain access to LIFT’s Composite Prototyping Center resources and training programs should contact Philip M. Coniglio, project director, at (631)846-2724 or E-Mail: pconiglio@lift.org

A formal ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the Composite Prototype Center is scheduled for late March or early April 2014. The funding for the LIFT Composite Prototyping Center was made possible through the efforts of New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a longstanding LIFT supporter and strong proponent of its role in Long Island region’s economic development.