Facility transforms from snapshots to solar energy
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.