The research and invention that have been happening at Innovation Park for the past three decades have made their mark on global industry. With access to a Tier 1 research university, top talent and leading innovators, the unique entrepreneurial ecosystem is able to quickly turn research and innovation into real-world success stories.
Thanks to the collaboration and research within the park, there have been global advancements in additive manufacturing, national defense, space exploration, energy and more. Here are just a few examples of ways that companies at Innovation Park are making a mark.
RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc. specializes in the research, design and manufacturing of highly reliable, innovative, rugged and modular computer boards and systems that can withstand shock and vibration, humidity and extreme temperatures in the harshest conditions of the oceans, deserts, arctic poles, high altitudes and space.
RTD’s products appear nearly everywhere, from spacecraft to oil rigs, and their specialized computers undergo multiple rounds of testing to make sure they work right, the first time, and every time.
Image: Xact Metal
Xact Metal is a company born from a Penn State student’s passion for making 3D printing available to everyone. Working on a shoe-string budget, relying on financial help from family, friends and startup competitions, the founder and his team created a single metal 3D printer and effectively solved a massive problem within the 3D printing marketplace. “Today, one of our 3D metal printers is in the learning factory at Penn State,” he says happily. “That kind of closes the loop for me. We've been able to provide printers to all kinds of makers at a lower cost.”
The company’s 3D printers fill a critical gap in metal additive manufacturing, making machines affordable for small- and mid-sized companies. Today, they are distributed around the country and the globe.
Image: Morgan Advanced Materials
In 2018, UK-based Morgan Advanced Materials, a global leader in materials science, opened its North American Carbon Science Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Innovation Park. Working in collaboration with Penn State, the center is researching manufacturing/wear optimization of resin-bonded composites with graphene nanofillers. This “wonder material” is the thinnest material known to man, about 200 times stronger than steel, and is an excellent conductor of electricity, light and flexible … and it’s transparent.
Breakthroughs in graphene use will have a significant impact on a wide range of commercial products manufactured in Pennsylvania. “Graphene can be used in seals and bearings to improve wear and friction performance,” says Phil Armstrong, lead at the Carbon Science Centre of Excellence. “These can be the bearings in your car, in your dishwasher, in your espresso machine. They can also be in big commercial things like a jet engine or a pump in a chemical plant.”
Image: Jessica Menold, Penn State
Last spring, as COVID-19 swept across the country, Professor Tim Simpson and Penn State CIMP-3D brought together a group of collaborators to solve urgent problems related to the design, manufacturing and sterilization of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the pandemic. Bringing together undergraduates (many using their own 3D printers from home), they designed, developed and prototyped their own ideas to help contain the spread of coronavirus. Soon, a 3D network around Penn State joined in, taking the group from five people to 400 on 21 different campuses. Within a few weeks, what had started as an idea for a class project turned into the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19, or MASC initiative, which turned out over $1 million PPE for distribution all over Pennsylvania.
Until recently, technicians had to draw blood or collect Oral Mucosal Transudate (OMT) to test for COVID-19 antibodies, but, in mid-March, saliva experts Salimetrics announced its launch of saliva-based testing that’s highly-sensitive, highly-specific and optimized for easy-to-collect whole saliva samples, providing a game-changing solution that makes things easier for study participants, those overseeing sample collection and researchers alike. For over 20 years, Salimetrics has been the gold standard in saliva research and saliva-based testing. Today, more than 20,000 researchers use the company’s products, measuring environmental chemical exposure, infectious disease, metabolomics, oral microbiome and inflammation. The assays have been used in more saliva-related published papers than any other assay in the field.