AlliedSignal to build new production facility But Md. won't be considered for plant

August 27, 1996|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

AlliedSignal Inc. said yesterday that it will build a new plant to double its output of Spectra Fiber and Spectra Shield, high-strength composites used for body armor and industrial purposes such as protective gloves and heavy-duty ropes for oil platforms.

The company, which has offices in Towson and Columbia, produces the fiber at its Engineered Materials Group outside Richmond, Va.

AlliedSignal officials intend to construct the new facility at an established company site and have narrowed the field of candidates to three, but none is in Maryland, said Spectra Performance Materials General Manager Jeff Leone.

Spectra Fiber was invented in 1985 and is one of only two such materials in the world. The other is produced by a company in the Netherlands.

Made of modified polyethylene, a type of plastic, the high-tech fiber is said to have the molecular structure of a diamond and to be, by weight, 10 times stronger than steel. Military and police body armor made from Spectra Fiber is lighter and stronger than that made from Kevlar, which is an older generation synthetic material, Leone said.

Worldwide demand is increasing faster than current output can satisfy, Leone said, making a new plant necessary. The Virginia outfit generates about 1.3 million pounds a year. The new plant will double that total by fall 1997, Leone said, and will have the capacity to triple output.

The facility will employ 35 to 50 people, adding jobs at a time when other AlliedSignal divisions are downsizing. The company's communications systems plant in Towson announced earlier this month that it will cut up to about 50 of its 1,000 employees. Another 160 jobs were trimmed there in January.

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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