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February 14, 2019

Brunswick Landing composites manufacturing area 'largest in Northeast'

Courtesy / MRRA
Courtesy / MRRA
Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority speaks at the opening of the new composite layup area at Brunswick Landing's TechPlace. Also pictured are, at left, Steve Savoie, manager of the facility, Maine Technology Institute President Brian Whitney, and fourth from left, Gov. Janet Mills.

A composites layup area that will make it easier for manufacturers to produce the composites they need for aircraft and boat production, as well as other types of construction, has opened at Brunswick Landing.

The $1 million layup facility in TechPlace III is the latest piece of the campus's growing manufacturing incubator, which houses 38 businesses and has 95,000 square feet of shared offices, manufacturing spaces and prototype labs that, besides supporting the composite materials industry, also support aerospace, biotechnology, cleantech and information technology firms.

The 2,600-square-foot composites layup area, part of an overall 5,000-square-foot area devoted to that type of work, is open to any business to use, with preference to those at TechPlace.

It is the largest composites layup space in the Northeast, said Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. Construction began about a year ago.

"TechPlace has been a great solution for the gap in inventory and manufacturing support that existed for start-up and early stage companies," Levesque said Thursday.

He said the shared production facilities and prototype development laboratories at TechPlace are key elements to the growth of entrepreneurial technology companies in Maine.

Steve Savoie, owner of Savoie Composites Solutions in Bowdoinham, will provide oversight at the space, which was christened Wednesday with an open house and visit from Gov. Janet Mills.

"Maine has the workforce, the motivation, the resources, and the raw materials we need to keep families living and working here in Maine," Mills said. "I hope that we can make it every young person's dream that after graduation, they can either move or stay here. Tech centers like this in manufacturing, research and development will help make that a reality, and I hope to see one located in every region in Maine someday."

The room, as well as an upgrade to the paint booth at TechPlace "is essential to the continued growth and development of composite companies in Maine," according to MRRA.

It offers an area for production use that is often too costly for starting businesses to afford, MRRA officials said. Providing the space for startups will allow more manufacturing businesses to start and grow.

Composites are used in manufacturing, particularly for aircraft and boats. Composite material is applied by hand in the layup process, and the temperature-controlled building has a room-sized oven that can manufacture aerospace-quality components as part of the process. It also includes the other elements necessary to do the work, including fume control, storage, a paint booth and more.

The area includes enough space to build aircraft fuselages and other parts for smaller planes, or for other applications, according to the MRRA. The Composites Engineering Research Lab is next door to the layup area, and can assist with prototyping and materials testing.

The layup facility was paid for with a $495,165 grant from the Maine Technology Institute, awarded in 2016, and another from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Tech Place, at 74 Orion St., opened in 2015. It had been the Navy's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, where the P3 Orion aircraft based at Brunswick Naval Air Base were repaired and maintained.

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