MicroGreen Polymers Inc. (Arlington)

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Tom Malone, MicroGreen
Walking on air: Tom Malone
leads MicroGreen Polymers, which has developed a method of trapping gas
molecules within plastics, making them lighter and less dense.

For more than seven years,
MicroGreen Polymers has been developing and refining a University of
Washington-developed technology designed to make plastics do more work with
less material.

Now, it’s time to put that work to
the test. MicroGreen plans to start production this year at its own
manufacturing plant to take its Ad-air technology to market (it had been using
a contract manufacturer in Wisconsin to prove the concept).

Ad-air combines common plastic
materials such as recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) with pressure and
carbon dioxide to produce a material that is longer, wider, less dense and
double in thickness from the original. By trapping gas molecules within the
plastic, producers need less source material to start with and can make lighter
products.

The initial target market, says
President and Chief Executive Tom Malone, is food packaging. But MicroGreen
sees applications in transportation equipment (cutting the weight of plastics
used in aircraft materials, for example), building materials and light
fixtures, appliances, and electronic displays and casings.

MicroGreen has been busy on
multiple fronts. It signed a royalty-bearing licensing agreement with a
Japanese consumer-electronics company, secured patents, raised capital ($9.3
million to date) and hired staff to start production.

The company expects to hit
commercial volumes of production in the second or third quarters of 2010, but
it’s already scouting new markets. Earlier this year, it won a grant of nearly
$150,000 from the National Science Foundation for research to be done in
collaboration with the UW on wall panels and decorative tiles using plastics
formed with the Ad-air process, to make materials that are lower cost, lighter,
provide better thermal insulation and higher mold resistance, incorporate more
recycled material and are themselves recyclable.

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This story has been updated with funding information that came to light after the magazine went to the printer.

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

Winner: Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
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Legacy Award
Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Auburn › belshaw-adamatic.com
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
 
The firm’s two legacy companies — Belshaw started in 1923, Adamatic in 1962 — combined forces in 2007. Italy’s Ali Group North America is the parent.
 
It it takes work to maintain a legacy. A months-long strike in 2013 damaged morale and forced a leadership change. Frank Chandler was named president and CEO of Belshaw Adamatic in September 2013. The company has since strived to mend workplace relationships while also introducing a stream of new products, such as a convection oven, the BX Eco-touch, with energy saving features and steam injection that can be programmed for precise times in baking. The company energetically describes it as “an oven that saves time, reduces errors, makes an awesome product, and is fun to use and depend on every day!”
 
So far, more than 3,000 have been installed in quick-service restaurants, bakeries, cafés and supermarkets in the United States. They are the legacy of Thomas and Walter Belshaw, former builders of marine engines, who began producing patented manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle 90 years ago. They sold thousands worldwide and, today, Belshaw Adamatic is the nation’s largest maker and distributor of doughnut-making equipment.