Strangpresse Launches New Tech for 3-D Printing

BOARDMAN, Ohio – A company that in December started manufacturing plastic resin filament used as feedstock in additive manufacturing equipment is stepping up its game.

“You’ll be able to print airplanes and satellites with this type of equipment,” said Chuck George, president of Strangpresse LLC, which leases manufacturing space on Velma Court. “It’s a great opportunity for this technology. It’s a great opportunity for us in Youngstown.”

Strangpresse – pronounced “strong-press” — emerged from an initial venture George launched late last year, Triptech 3D. That operation produced coils of plastic line used to supply smaller-scale 3-D printers. Now, the objective is to manufacture equipment that could build complex products such as aircraft and automobiles through additive manufacturing.

One such piece of equipment commanded the center of attention Tuesday during an event attended by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio.

Strangpresse’s technology uses a vertical hybrid extrusion/injection press that melts plastic resin into a fungible state. The resin – in plastic pellet form – is poured into a small hopper at the top of the machine. A large screw engineered and designed by another local company, Md Plastics Inc. in Columbiana, heats and propels the melted material through a nozzle at the bottom of the machine.

George said this particular machine is bound for a client in Fort Collins, Colo., that will attach the equipment onto a robotic arm.

“The whole idea of this technology is to make big-area manufacturing machines, which are large 3-D printers,” George said.

In essence, the extrusion equipment acts as a large printer head and discharges the material layer by layer to build a new product or component. “It would be a series of these to help speed up the production process,” he said.

Components are built in the Youngstown area, assembled at Strangpresse, and then shipped out as a single unit, George said. “This project was always in the back of our minds. We’ve been working on this for over a year and half.”

The concept took shape after George and others met with scientists and engineers at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee. Technology developed here led to the production of the world’s first 3-D printed car, which was unveiled at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago last year.

Extrusion equipment used to print the Oak Ridge vehicle produced roughly 35 pounds of material per hour, George said. “As we sat through meetings at Oak Ridge, everybody’s goal was to be able to produce 100 pounds an hour of output on a piece of equipment that weighed less than 35 pounds,” he said, all of which is controlled by computer and software.

Strangpresse’s equipment does just that with polymers, George said. His company works with the Youngstown Business Incubator and America Makes in Youngstown and is scheduled to meet with principals at the NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland to discern the potential of other projects.

Michael Durina, president of Md Plastics, said his company holds a patent on the equipment’s heating screw and its shut-off mechanism, two vital components of the technology. “That’s really important to this process,” he said.

The equipment works at adjusted speeds, he said, so it’s important that it can handle various polymers that require different processes. “I think we have a unique design for a unique application,” Durina said. “It can build very rapidly and build any geometry that you throw at it.”

Johnson, whose district covers a 350-mile stretch along the Ohio River that includes Columbiana County and the eastern part of Mahoning County, is spending time in his district meeting business leaders and groups while Congress is on summer break.

“We live in a manufacturing belt,” Johnson noted after being shown a demonstration on how the equipment works. “What you see going on here – taking it to the level where they’re taking it to for large-scale scientific and technical applications – that’s a really big deal.”

Johnson says it’s entrepreneurs such as George and Durina who spur innovation by putting up private funds and trying out new ideas, not relying on government assistance. “To get that kind of innovation and competition and that flywheel effect in full gear again,” the congressman declared, “we’ve got to have policies coming out of Washington that stops strangling business innovation.”

Pictured: Michael Durina, president of Md Plastics in Columbiana, said his company holds a patent on the equipment’s heating screw and its shut-off mechanism, two vital components of the technology. 

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