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Nanotechnology Company Unveils Expanded Facility

Hybrid Plastics' $2.3 million, 15,000-square-foot addition will allow it to increase production five-fold and double the current number of employees.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Hybrid Plastics has unveiled its expanded Hattiesburg operation — $2.3 million, 15,000-square-foot addition that will allow it to increase its production five-fold to nearly a ton of material a year and double the current 30 employees.
Hybrid Plastics alters the molecular structure of its raw material to create a new structure, called POSS, with properties that go far beyond the original.
The nanoparticles that make up the powder and liquid additives sold by Hybrid are tiny. The largest has a diameter of just 3 nanometers, or billionths of a meter.
The nanoparticles are used in plastic that carries the qualities of an industrial ceramic: resistance to heat and cold, super-hard toughness and flame resistance.
''Everyone across the world is buying POSS — a technology made here in Mississippi and it can't be made anywhere else in the world,'' Hybrid President and co-founder Joe Lichtenhan said Monday during the ribbon-cutting for the expansion. ''That's going to guarantee us a place in global technology.''
He said the tiny POSS molecules are used to enhance the quality and durability of other materials in high-tech applications like arterial stents, fiber optic light generators, radiation shields or aerospace applications.
Lichtenhan said Hybrid has invested $2.8 million in another expansion that will allow them to manufacture up to 500 tons a year of a lower purity material that can be used in less sensitive applications. And that would keep the technology in Mississippi.
''If we don't demonstrate a capacity to manufacture a certain volume, then our customers will want to foreign source the manufacturing process,'' Lichtenhan said. ''That's what Hybrid doesn't want to see happen. We've got 15 to 16 acres of land to build on and we want to keep the know-how here in Mississippi.''
Hybrid moved from California to Hattiesburg in 2004, according to a Hattiesburg American article.
Gov. Haley Barbour told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting that he has watched computer technology shrink from behemoth machines capable of performing basic functions to complex devices that fit in a person's pocket.
''I won't pretend to understand nanotechnology but it is a pretty obvious extension of the miniaturization of technology that has been going on since World War II,'' he said.
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