The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) in New Sudbury is getting a cash infusion of $305,000 to help budding entrepreneurs with their ideas and a new machine that can crank out large quantities of small-sized prototype parts in short order.
“When you grow businesses and research, you create jobs,” said Sudbury Liberal MP Paul Lefebvre in announcing the money from the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) at a press conference at NORCAT Friday.
“As we know, innovation drives the economy.”
About two-thirds of the money — $205,000 — will to go to NORCAT’s Innovation Acceleration Program, which is designed to help high-tech businesses improve productivity and competitiveness through the use of innovative technologies, processes or practices. Eligible companies can receive up to $10,000 in non-repayable funding, through the program’s second phase, for services or direct costs for innovation-related product such as software and application development, product testing and certification.
The remaining $100,000 went to the purchase of a new BOY 50 E injection molding machine, which is capable of processing a wide range of materials such as thermoplastic, thermoset, elastomer, liquid silicone rubber, and rigid PVC.
The state-of-the-art machine can help local businesses increase competitiveness and reduce the need to access resources outside the area for mold making and part production.
As well, the machine will help enhance skills training in the North by providing opportunities for local engineers to learn about mold making and injection molding.
In conjunction with the machine’s purchase, $20,000-$30,000 had to be spent on specialized equipment.
Tom Fortin, owner of the Fortin Discovery Lab at NORCAT, which houses the new injection molding machine, said a 3-D printer can do wonders, but it can’t handle large volumes.
“If we are making 10-20 things, we can use our 3-D printer,” he told reporters. “But if we want 50, 1,000 or more, we can’t do it with the existing mold machine.”
Fortin said sending something to China where large injection molding machines exist can take three months to end up with the prototype and another six months to get it into production.
“Here, it can be done in a week,” he said.
Fortin said the new injection-molding machine is the only one of its kind in Greater Sudbury, but there are also some in North Bay to the east.
He said the machine is geared towards making things about one cubic foot in size, in particular items that have to do with electronics.
Originally published on The Sudbury Star by Harold Carmichael