New N.J. plant becomes sole source of foamable celluloid in U.S.

A new pilot plant in New Jersey that’s developing new processes for producing munitions and components has become the sole source of foamable celluloid in the U.S., according to an announcement from New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Previously, the U.S. relied on foreign sources of foamable celluloid, such as in China. Developing this capability domestically will reduce the time and cost of production. Indeed, the 16,000-square-foot plant, in Fairfield, is expected to help slash the cost of producing disruptive energetics and propellants by hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Joint Munitions Manufacturing Technology Group.

The facility is run by the Polymer Processing Institute, which is based on the campus of NJIT in Newark. PPI and NJIT are partners in JMMTG, which also includes the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, based at Picatinny Arsenal.

U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11th Dist.) sees the plant as a “cutting-edge research institution” that furthers N.J.’s efforts to foster innovation.

“In New Jersey, we have all the ingredients we need to make ourselves the defense innovation hub for the Northeast,” said Sherrill, speaking earlier this week during an opening ceremony at the plant, which is in her district. “We have fantastic companies that are pushing the boundaries on everything from advanced energetics for munition to aerospace controls.

“We have some of the top research institutions in the world, including … NJIT. And we have Picatinny Arsenal, which is such a crucial pillar of the U.S. military’s modernization efforts.”

Also speaking at ceremony were NJIT President Joel Bloom; NJIT professors Costas Gogos and Donald Sebastian, both of whom serve on the PPI board of trustees; PPI President Ming-Wan Young; Army Brig. Gen. William Boruff, the program executive officer for the Army Joint Program Executive Office and armaments and ammunition commanding general at Picatinny Arsenal; Picatinny Arsenal Executive Director Dave Castellano; and Charlie Martin, president and general manager of Leistritz and a PPI trustee.

For Bloom, the plant exemplifies a core service mission of NJIT and its nonprofit corporation, the New Jersey Innovation Institute.

Joel Bloom. (File photo)

“NJII was formed with the idea of, if you are a business industry, if you are an arsenal, if you are a governmental agency, you have this organization called New Jersey Institute of Technology, a public polytechnic university, that can serve a local community, serve an arsenal, serve a business and industry,” Bloom said.

That assistance, he added, takes the form of everything from sharing science and technology knowledge to conducting research and preparing the workforce.