Sapphire crystals pilot project is underway

Sapphire Materials Company is located in Port of C-W Industrial Park

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A company located in the Port of Camas-Washougal Industrial Park is embarking on a pilot project to grow sapphire crystals for multiple uses.

Sapphire Materials Company, LLC, is located in the Columbia Manufacturing & Technology Center, along with Silicon Chemical Corporation, SCC Solar Energy Group and Quantum Clean Corporation, at the former Saint-Gobain Crystals property, in Washougal.

CMTC, a limited liability company, purchased the site at 750 S. 32nd St. for $1.5 million in December 2010.

Jeff Ericcsen, controller with Sapphire Materials Company, said Monday the company is installing new equipment for growing sapphire crystal and fabricating parts.

“Commissioning and testing is underway for the crystal growth department, while fabrication equipment is arriving and being set up,” he said.

SMC is awaiting cooling water discharge permits from the Washington State Department of Ecology, to allow operations to proceed.

“If everything goes well, they will start looking at the potential to expand the pilot project,” said Paul Dennis, executive director of the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association.

“Sapphire is a high growth industry now,” he added. “Sapphire is used to coat tools. It reduces the wear and tear on products, including watches. The biggest application is LED lighting.”

SMC has hired several former Saint-Gobain employees, with the hope of adding more.

The sapphire pilot project was among the issues of discussion during the CWEDA board meeting Thursday. Additional topics included a small tools company interested in relocating from Portland, a biotech company is looking at a site in the Camas Meadows area, and the future renovation of the former American Legion building in Camas.

The next CWEDA board meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 26, at 1:30 p.m., in the second floor conference room, in Washougal Town Square, 1700 Main St., Washougal. Meetings are open to the public. For more information, call 607-9816 or email