Facility transforms from snapshots to solar energy
Konarka develops former Polaroid facility into solar manufacturing plant
A former Polaroid plant has been developed into a thin-film solar manufacturing facility. According to reports in the Providence Business News and Graphic Arts Online , Konarka Technologies Inc. has signed a $10 million long-term lease on a 257,000-square-foot building in the former Polaroid complex in New Bedford, MA. The facility was the home of Polaroid Corp.’s advanced printing technologies until 2005. MultiLayer Coating Technologies operated in that space, but discontinued operations in 2007, according to Providence Business News.
The report in Graphic Arts Online stated that Konarka “hired technology and process engineering teams from Polaroid, and plans to hire more than 100 additional employees as production increases toward capacity over the next two to three years.” Currently, the plant has less than 24 employees.
Konarka has developed a product called Power Plastic, a low-cost material that converts light to energy for indoor, portable, outdoor and building-integrated solar uses. The material is said to be lightweight, flexible and more versatile than traditional solar materials.
Venture capital and private-equity funding sources have provided Konarka with more than $100 million. Government research grants from the U.S. and Europe account for another $18 million for the company. State and local tax breaks will help offset Konarka’s expansion costs, according to Providence Business News.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.