By Bret Lanz
K-State News and Communications Services
MANHATTAN — Design assistance provided by Kansas State University’s Carl R. Ice College of Engineering Technology Development Institute helped a local manufacturing company create a new hand sanitizer dispenser and manufacturing line of bottles to meet the need created by recent supply chain difficulties.
Circle B Manufacturing, Junction town, received a personal protective equipment grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce in late 2020 to help procure the manufacturing equipment needed to produce both a new hand sanitizer dispenser and the necessary bottles to fill the dispenser. During the same period, the Institute for Technological Development was able to provide Circle B with design and prototyping assistance through its innovation stimulation program, funded by the EDA CARES Act of the United States. Economic Development Administration.
As the pandemic escalated, it was nearly impossible to obtain new dispensers from foreign suppliers, and bottles of sanitizer to refill existing dispensers were not readily available, especially for small market producers. By joining the funding streams, Circle B was able to work with the institute’s engineering staff to benchmark competing distributors from various vendors and select the most desirable aspects of each unit to incorporate into a unique new design that could be manufactured. in their production facilities. In addition to the injection molding machines needed to produce the dispensers, the company was able to acquire blow molding equipment to start producing bottles of various sizes in large volumes.
“We have received great support from a wide range of entities across Kansas to help us bring this concept to life,” said Kenny Burris, vice president of Circle B. “We hope to begin relocating some of manufacturing that has been sent overseas in recent decades.”
Circle B began producing commercial bottles in late 2021 and is currently looking to expand production for new customers. The company is currently working on completing the tooling needed to begin production of the hand sanitizer dispensers and hopes to have this completed and in production by the end of 2022 as well.