Dr. Stephen Hutcheson, Technical Director, Presco Polymers and Stephen Janak, Chemical Engineer, Presco popped by Marking Minute to give host James Kent an insider’s perspective on the research & development process of many of Presco’s products. Dr. Hutcheson, a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, found his love of STEM at an early age. His father was, and still is, a high school biology teacher. Dr. Hutcheson pursued an engineering degree in college and discovered his interest in polymers, which eventually led a pathway to Presco.

A chance meeting with Joe Hardt, CEO of Presco, led chemical engineering undergraduate, Janak, to an eventual position as a chemical engineer working in R&D under Dr. Hutcheson at Presco.

What’s it like working in R&D at Presco? “It depends on the day,” Janak said. “A day can include traveling to a customer location to provide technical support, or I can spend an entire day on the production lines scale up a project. But most of my time is spent in the labs developing new colors or materials for our customers.”

Dr. Hutcheson agreed with the varying nature of each day. “I focus on formulating specific customer requirements. We are a lean organization, and that allows us to move fast when it comes to developing products. It also allows us to get information back to the customer quickly.” Although many of the projects that keep R&D busy are quick turnarounds for customers, the team also works on a steady mix of long-term product solutions.

The team has a lab extruder that allows them to turn around fast projects and provide small lab samples to the customer, which mimics what the final delivery project will be. “I like it because it lets us create a base formulation that will have all the properties of the materials a customer will need and create a lot of variation of colors for them,” Janak said.