Spectra Group reaches 20th anniversary
From its beginnings as research conducted in a chemistry lab at Bowling Green State University, a local high-tech business has grown to serve foreign and domestic markets.
Spectra Group Limited, Inc., observed its 20th anniversary with an open house recently at its Lemoyne Road facility in Millbury, where the company has been located since April, 2005 – having moved there from Arrowhead Park.
Alex Mejiritski explains some of the
“We needed a place where we could do more manufacturing,” Alex Mejiritski, president, said, adding the company has plans to expand into adjoining suites and possibly hire one or two more employees.
Currently, the company employs six with almost everyone except for the office manager a holder of a Ph.D. in a specialized field of chemistry.
To call Spectra a chemical company, however, would be akin to calling a Ferrari a vehicle.
Spectra’s website describes itself as a company “…specializing in creative solutions in the photo-sciences” and having a “…unique collection of technology experts providing coverage of various fields, including photo-chemistry, polymer chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, photo-initiator synthesis, resin formulation for radiation cure and applied development, and spectroscopy.”
The company even offers less exotic-sounding services such as performance testing and litigation assistance.
About 90 percent of its business is with firms in the U.S. and the balance is with companies in foreign markets, Mejiritski said. Revenues in 2009 reached about $1.2 million.
“We’ve been growing the past five years,” he said.
The U.S. Navy is a client, using a coating manufactured by Spectra to line the inside of the ballast tanks of the U.S.S. Alabama, which is based on the west coast as part of the Pacific Fleet.
Wayne Earley, Chief Executive Officer of Polymer Ohio, a non-profit organization that offers support services for businesses in the chemical field, said Spectra is poised for breaking into new markets.
“Spectra has important technology with potential applications in several industries. Their growth is at a stage that can lead to significant new customers and applications, he said. “Polymer Ohio looks forward to continued collaboration with Spectra where we can assist in meeting their objectives. This is an excellent team with good leadership. Spectra is an important part of Ohio's polymer industry.”
Mejiritski said one of the company’s specialties is photo polymerization, which he describes as “the art of converting a liquid precursor (a compound that participates in the chemical reaction that produces another compound) to solid pieces of plastic.”
“A photopolymer is a liquid resin that, upon exposure to light from a laser or a lamp, transforms into a solid. Photocuring is fast, clean, and green. No solvents are used and no waste is produced. Typically, a photopolymer resin precursor consists of a multi-component mixture of compounds, rather than a single material and therein lies the complexity of the field. Depending on the composition of the liquid prior to light exposure, the resulting photopolymer can exhibit a vast range of properties,” he said.
In 2008, the Ohio Department of Development approved a grant of $350,000 to Spectra for researching potential commercial products made from advanced photopolymers – those that cure or become solid when exposed to light.
Much of the actual product leaving the Spectra facility is “liquid goop”, as Mejiritski describes it, in bottles or drum barrels.
But even he doesn’t know what are some of the products utilizing Spectra’s research and materials. That’s because about 40 percent of the company’s business is providing the “goop” for solid modeling being conducted by firms for companies actually manufacturing the final product.
“In general, creating a model or a functional prototype can be accomplished with either digital or analog protocols,” Mejiritski said. “With the digital method a three-dimensional solid object to be created is first `deconstructed’ on a computer and a `build file’ is created. This file is then fed into a light source-exposer, which impinges light of specific wavelength, dimension and intensity on a point-by-point basis onto a fluid volume of photopolymer, causing solidification in the strict accordance with the computerized model. In analog methods, a mold cavity transparent to light and completely replicating the shape of a three-dimensional solid object is created first. Then this mold is filled with photopolymer liquid and the object copies are created via irradiation through the mold. The mold can be used several times. Stereolithography is an example of a digital method. Creating models for casting in the jewelry/foundry industry is an analog method.”
Spectra’s origins stem from the research lab of Dr. Doug Neckers, who headed the Center for Photochemical Sciences at Bowling Green State University, where many of the company’s staff earned their degrees.
Neckers is still active with the company and serves as its board chairman.
He said Spectra will be manufacturing some of the materials used by a relatively new start-up company, DenDroCo, LLC, which has developed a pheromone derivative for pine beetles, which have destroyed acres of forests in the western U.S.
DenDroCo last year received a grant from Rocket Ventures, a division of the Regional Growth Partnership, for the project.