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Thinking Robot coming to Buffalo's waterfront in $84M manufacturing deal

Thinking Robot Studios
A rendering of the plant to come to Buffalo's waterfront.

A section of Buffalo's old industrial waterfront, once producing for the steel industry, is now slated to become an $84 million manufacturing plant for artificial limbs and joints made specifically for individual patients.

Credit Thing Robot Studios

The company Thinking Robot Studios is coming to Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, officials announced Tuesday.

The park is an area of modern manufacturing on the city line with Lackawanna, once the home of Hanna Furnace and Donner-Hanna Coke. Millions of dollars have gone into cleaning up a highly toxic brownfield and replacing it with roads and utilities for a modern industrial park.

Thinking Robot is buying 22 acres of land for office and manufacturing space. CEO and partner Gregg Gellman said it is very high-tech production.

"By means of 3D printing, additive manufacturing, we'll be able to print accurate assessments and anatomical reference to knee, hips, spinal implants, out of the gate," Gellman said. "Our plans to expand are down the road, but primarily it's patient-specific implants."

Gellman said that means each implant can be designed exactly for a specific patient, not just standard sizes. The East Amherst resident said the University at Buffalo's engineering programs were one of the factors in choosing the site.

Credit Thinking Robot Studios

Invest Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Thomas Kucharski said it took two years competing with possible sites around the world to get to Tuesday's announcement that Thinking Robot was coming to Ship Canal Parkway. The company is moving from its startup base in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Toronto, with Buffalo as its manufacturing base.

"We know we have the natural resources, the academic institutions, the programs of excellence at Northland, at Buffalo Manufacturing Works, at UB Center of Excellence that can support targeting additive manufacturing, 3-D printing and, of course, the extension of all of those as related to medical sciences," Kucharski said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said there will be a many jobs and major investments as the industrial park is filled out and plants opened.

"The third major land sale agreement that we have been able to enter into, through the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, which will total about $220 million of investment that could bring over 1,400 jobs," Brown said.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.