You may have
played softball at Hysol Park in North Olean but did you know that Hysol was a
famous name among electronics innovators? Founded in Olean by native son and
chemist, Russ Houghton, Hysol invented the epoxy powder coating that has since
become common on items like park benches, chrome automobile wheels and that
green concrete reinforcing rod you see during road construction.
Hysol focused on electronics. Epoxy plastic with “high
solid content” was one of the first plastic composites, able to achieve
outstanding strength, toughness and electrical insulation. Hysol powder
coatings were used on early electronic components like capacitors, and
resistors. In the 1960’s Hysol invented the first epoxy plastic that could be
molded directly around a silicon chip.
This breakthrough enabled America to win the Space
Race – among other things, and it made the factory on Franklin Street which is
now occupied by SolEpoxy, the world’s largest semiconductor plastic production
and development center! Scientists and workers in Olean developed and
manufactured critical materials for Texas Instruments, Motorola, and National
Semiconductor – just to name a few.
Then the world changed. The Soviet Union collapsed,
the cold war ended and China welcomed western firms to tap its vast population
for cheap labor. Microelectronics firms, who had already moved production to
places like Malaysia and Taiwan, bolted for China.
This made Olean far, far away from the action. Henkel
Corporation, the last owner of the Hysol tradition, scattered the ashes. They
moved the Olean labs to California, the Olean Customer Service Department was
spread among call centers as far away as Manila. Manufacturing of semiconductor
plastic was moved to China in 2007.
SolEpoxy was formed in 2010 by local investors
determined to operate these assets and restore the Hysol Tradition in Olean.
This year we’re proud to announce new products, better processes – and to
introduce some of our people!
Melissa Wiegand is a Chemical Engineer and Material
Scientist from Stevens Institute of Technology. She led the development of two
breakout products last year – a liquid epoxy adhesive for metals like stainless
steel, and a pure white plastic mold compound that is used to frame and protect
Phil Farris is an experienced Chemist from Olean. He
and his team of technicians developed the world’s strongest composite epoxy
plastic that is both moldable and uniformly strong in every direction. It’s also
flame-retardant and electrically insulating. It’ll find use in critical
applications like explosion-proof industrial facilities and oil drilling
Kyle Custard, an Allegany native, is an Analytical Chemist from Purdue. He’s
developing important variations of our world’s best, water-clear epoxy that’s
used around optical sensors and LED lights.
This is another interesting bit of Hysol history:
These labs on Franklin Street first invented water-clear epoxy in the early
1970’s. Even today, when you visit your Doctor and they clip a blood pulse
oximeter to your finger, you’re probably touching MG18 epoxy made right here!
That little laser and it’s sensor are encapsulated in plastic from Olean.
Joe Kubic shoulders the Hysol Tradition of formulating
best-in-class powder coatings. If you like the sound of your Fender amp you’ll
be pleased to learn that Joe just made it safer. He developed the world’s only
coating powder for film-wrapped capacitors that has a halogen-free flame
retardant. So now that you know; rock on! (Joe missed the picture. He was in
Phil Hatfield is a Chemical Engineer from SUNY Buffalo
who came to SolEpoxy as an intern and then got hooked on Olean. He’s a Process
Engineer and his projects make our factory more efficient. He just doubled the
throughput of one our bottleneck operations! With successes like this, we can
match China costs and beat China quality.
Kaitlyn Penston is a Chemist who joined SolEpoxy from
PPG in Pittsburgh after following the Allegany north. She manages our Quality
Control Department and our team of technicians who do it all. Her team
certifies every batch of product Sol sells and they support every R&D
project too. They also support customers with trouble-shooting and technical
service tips. Her department is also our lead team for ISO 9000 quality control
Olean is making progress and SolEpoxy couldn’t be more
pleased to be part of the story.