The St. Marys facility of Mersen USA celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday morning to commemorate its new cold isostatic press (CIP), believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.
Various city and state officials, industry personnel from the U.S. and abroad, and invited guests and Mersen employees were on hand for the event.
The first portion of the event featured plant tours during which Mersen employees explained the various aspects of the facility, equipment and how its various products are produced from start to finish. The tour also included a behind-the-scenes look at the new isostatic press.
Mersen USA St. Marys General Manager Noah Nichelson welcomed those in attendance and noted the efforts of plant employees in preparing for the arrival of the press in all areas, including construction of the new building which houses the unit, contingency plans, engineering work and much more. He also noted their continued dedication to the company.
Christophe Bommier, vice president of Mersen high-temperature division, spoke about various aspects of the new press and how the company is at the forefront of the graphite industry, pioneering many processes and products.
Also offering brief comments was Nancy Plows of the company's human resources department.
The isostatic press applies pressure from all directions in order to achieve uniform compaction and increased shape capability. The new equipment utilizes wet-bag pressing, in which powder is packed into a rubber sheath that is immersed in water, which works to transmit the pressure-- in excess of 20,000 pounds per square inch (psi)-- evenly to the powder in order to obtain a specific shape. Operation cycles within the press average one hour.
The new equipment allows Mersen to increase their ability to produce large cross-section graphite blocks for customers in industrial environments such as silicon production and refining, foundry and ceramic processes, and other high-temperature applications.
Area residents got a glimpse of the press as parts of it traveled through downtown St. Marys last year, with the third and final piece arriving in late September.