Photon Automation moving forward with expansion


GREENFIELD — A local manufacturing equipment supplier is setting its laser sights on an ambitious investment.

Photon Automation Inc., a laser equipment supplier, is planning to expand its operation to the east of its headquarters at 275 Center St. in Greenfield, company officials said. The company will improve a nearby 30,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Mitchell-Fleming Printing.

Partner Bill Huffman formally requested a tax abatement from the city earlier this month, and the Greenfield City Council approved the 10-year tax break. The company is preparing for an $18 million investment aimed at building electric vehicle batteries using laser welding. Once the company sets up shop in the new building, officials plan to hire more engineers and technicians, Huffman told the city council.

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Abatement documents submitted to the city states the company plans to initially spend $500,000 in improvements to the building and $404,000 in new equipment.

The company wants to expand its availability to fill orders, said Photon Automation partner Jason Webster. Their facility isn’t capable of meeting all the demand, so the company has been working with the city for the past several months to work on a solution, he said.

In 2015, Photon Automation was awarded the patent for a novel laser welding method, which gives technicians the ability to join dissimilar metals together, Huffman said. This breakthrough has driven growth for the laser welding industry, he said.

The company has received a grant to push forward with developing a battery system that will allow it to build a production line between now and 2024, Huffman said.

“We’ve outgrown that facility, and now we need a lot more space,” Huffman said. “So we’re getting to do some serious renovations there for our new, high-end assembly building.”

The $18 million investment is just the tip of the iceberg for what the company hopes to accomplish in the coming years, Huffman continued. With the installation of advanced vision technology and robotics systems, the company is looking to fill at least 15 new positions for engineers and technicians, Huffman said.

Photon Automation will be expanding its state-of-the-art laser application lab, which will allow it to leverage its technical position in the industry, Huffman said. This patented technology will allow them to significantly strengthen their manufacturing capabilities, he said.

“Without a doubt, this is a very exciting time for us,” Huffman said. “Really, there’s no other lab like it in the U.S.”