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Rice Steamer

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 10:19 am


Blue Current Brewery Blue Current Brewery is a Maine business located in Kittery that hand crafts sake in small batches using traditional methods and the finest natural ingredients.

We worked with Dan Ford, the owner of Blue Current, to identify a good method for steaming Rice for his Sake brewery. Once we Identified the steam generation kettle we then designed a custom basket that would fit inside the kettle and matched some of the best options from designs that had been researched. Once the steam basket was designed in 3D CAD, we then worked with a local material supplier Lane Conveyors and Drives to supply the large outer tube. Once we had the outer tube, the AMC then fabricated the base and rings to strengthen and support the rice inside the basket. We tig welded the entire stainless steel basket together then polished. 

Dan’s experience with us: “We are so excited to have been able to partner with the AMC, John Belding, the engineering students, and Dr. Jason Bolton in the Food Science program. Their willingness to learn about our whole brewing process was invaluable in crafting a tool to match a centuries old technique and to ensure our rice is steamed properly. Partnering with the team throughout the process ensured the final solution, our awesome rice steamer, will serve our sake brewery for years to come.”

  Rice Steamer 1image (1)

Ecoshel Smart Shingle Assembly System

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Ecoshel Logo


Bryan Kirkey, Owner of Ecoshel | John Belding, Director of the AMC | Dana Hodgkin, Owner of Progress Engineering


Ecoshel is a company that produces cedar siding panels that utilize a unique, patented installation system that minimizes installation effort, waste, extra weight and materials, and extends shingle life.  Ecoshel’s owner, Brian Kirkey, wanted to move his company to the state of Maine to be closer to the supply of premium wood. Brian sought out the Maine Technology Institute for help and they referred him to the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC). Bryan met with the AMC staff and engineering student interns and discussed his plans and outlined what he wanted to accomplish; a state of the art manufacturing facility for his product in the State of Maine. The AMC’s capacity to support Ecoshel with innovative Engineering and Manufacturing services was instrumental in Bryan’s decision to move his manufacturing facility to the state. During a recent interview Bryan stated “(he) would have never come to the state if it weren’t for the AMC development facility here”. The AMC was tasked with the job of designing, building, and commissioning the prototype manufacturing assembly system which included custom turnkey equipment combined with existing technologies. The AMC sought out private industry partners like Dana Hodgkin, owner of Progress Engineering for additional system integration and controls support. Working with Ecoshel and Progress Engineering the AMC was able to develop a novel automated solution that can scan, optimize, and cut the raw lumber to produce a shingle every second with the specialized features unique to Ecoshel’s system. Once the shingles are made they are then assembled in to Ecoshel’s patented panels.

Ecoshel Assembly Diagram (Black)


Development, design, manufacturing, and testing took place at the Advanced Manufacturing Center on the University of Maine campus.


Project completed on 6/27/14


The AMC staff and engineering student interns worked with the client and suppliers by first building a 3D computer model of the entire assembly system layout, integrating standard wood industry equipment, and scanning technology from Progress Engineering.  The AMC staff and engineering student interns then focused on developing the new mechanical systems that were unique to the Ecoshell system and was able to create custom machinery and control cabinets. A, efficient punch machine was developed to notch the cedar panels without damaging them and modular ergonomic assembly pallets were developed so the shingles can be assembled together quickly and easily. The AMC had to meet strict production requirements involving accuracy and minimum rates of production. Upon completion of the project, the equipment will be shipped to Ashland, Maine where it will ultimately be operating in a brand new facility, built specifically for Ecoshel product production.

10 - Proceeds to Final Assembly 7 - Different sized panel hoppers seperate panels 6 - Trims edges to make straight (2) 4 - Aligns Boards


The Ecoshel project has stimulated the Maine economy, created over 11 new jobs and given even more invaluable experience to University of Maine Engineering students.


This project was featured in the Bangor Daily News, Fox Bangor News, and WABI TV 5.

For More Information:


Portable Ice Core Sampling Tool

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Chipmunk Drill CADChipmunk Drill Product

The AMC has worked with the Department of Earth and Climate Sciences and the Climate Change Institute to design a small, portable and efficient ice core extraction tool. The new drill offers a high level of portability and is designed to extract 50 cm samples that are 2 inches in diameter. The AMC was able to apply the knowledge from the Climate Change Institute to the geometry of the drill to ensure the absolute greatest level of efficiency. In addition, it was designed to have removable cutting blades to reduce costs and increase the life span of the drill. During the summer of 2014, the drill will be used to investigate the microstructure (size, shape and orientation of grains) of glacial ice. This is important because glaciers have a major potential to cause global sea level rise, and we still do not know all the reasons why glaciers will suddenly speed up or how large calving events (when large chunks of the glacier fracture and fall into the ocean) are initiated.


Candy Manufacturing System

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

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When an entrepreneur came to the AMC and needed help developing a manufacturing process for a unique type of candy necklace, we were happy to help. This candy necklace was previously being made by hand, which took over half an hour to produce only one. After using the work station the AMC developed, one candy necklace could be made in about two minutes which increased productivity by 15x.  Do you have a sweet idea like this one but need help making it a reality? Contact the AMC at today and find out what we can do for you!