CRANBERRY Township, PA—A Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant is funding research to advance the scientific knowledge of laser plastic welding among American engineering students. Product marking and identification systems supplier MECCO is taking part in the project, along with Robert Morris and other local universities.

The grant is part of $2.3 million awarded by Gov. Tom Wolf through the Manufacturing PA initiative, which is funding 36 research projects to help advance innovation in several sectors of manufacturing.

"As more of our customers look toward developing plastic products, this research is opening the door to the next frontier for manufacturing," says Dave Sweet, president of MECCO. "Previously, laser plastic welding was an under-researched technology. Now, we are excited to be a part of this project that will benefit multiple manufacturing sectors, from automotive and aerospace to biomed.”

Students who take part in the project gain internship experience, have access to MECCO’s applications lab, and increase their employment opportunities. To date, 29 students have participated in the program. Interns have benefited from the project by earning credits; presenting their research at various conferences and events; supporting master’s theses and PhD Dissertations; and contributing to peer-reviewed journals. Former interns have also entered the manufacturing and engineering workforce with companies, including MECCO.

“As a result of this ongoing research, MECCO has gained tools for demonstrating the welding processes and a deeper understanding of the applications to help customers apply this technology to solve new problems or improve upon existing solutions,” says Dr. Ben Campbell, associate professor of engineering at Robert Morris University who is leading the program research efforts. “The students have expressed deep appreciation for the opportunity to develop many new skills, participate in industry research, and learn to provide solutions for customer driven problems."