Peak Nanosystems LLC is utilizing small-scale know-how to make a huge impact.
The corporate makes use of extraordinarily skinny layers of polymers to govern supplies in new methods, permitting it to create merchandise that may be lighter, smaller, extra actual. It is “engineering on the virus stage,” CEO Jim Welsh stated.
And it is doing that work in Northeast Ohio.
Welsh stated he needs Peak Nano to be the “world’s main commercialization engine for nanotechnology.” It is getting its begin in optics, however he sees alternatives in a wide range of different industries, like electrical automobiles or meals packaging.
The corporate acquired its begin in 2016. At present, Peak Nano has 54 workers, 37 of whom are in Ohio. Welsh stated he might see that rising to 250 to 300 workers within the subsequent few years. The corporate doesn’t disclose annual income.
The preliminary plan was to do improvement in Ohio and manufacturing in Texas, Welsh stated. However the firm quickly discovered that it made extra sense to do all of it in Ohio. It was extra economical to construct out the required clear rooms within the state, Welsh stated, and the event staff was taken with maintaining near the manufacturing operation. Plus, Ohio had a wealth of skilled workers within the polymer and machining areas.
“It was just about a no brainer, the place Chad (Lewis) and I simply checked out one another and stated we have to preserve this factor collectively in Ohio,” Welsh stated.
The gradient refractive index — GRIN for brief — know-how Peak Nanosystems is utilizing mimics that present in nature within the eye. Folks have been conscious of it tons of of years in the past, however they could not fairly work out easy methods to replicate it, stated Mike Hus, senior vice chairman of engineering. Researchers at Case Western Reserve College have been in a position to take action about 10 or 15 years in the past.
That work turned spinout firm PolymerPlus, which Peak Nano acquired within the spring of 2020. PolymerPlus was science-heavy and wanted assist on commercialization and manufacturing with the intention to scale. The 2 corporations had labored collectively on optics know-how, stated Lewis, president for Peak Nano.
“It was only a excellent marriage,” Lewis stated.
At present, the corporate designs its know-how and producers movies at an roughly 25,000-square-foot facility in Valley View. And it makes its optics merchandise in Macedonia, which acquired up and operating about six months in the past. The corporate is internet hosting an official grand opening there July 21.
Primarily, nanotechnology permits Peak Nano to do subtle engineering inside skinny movies or small lenses. On the optics aspect, that provides the corporate much more management over how the sunshine touring by a lens behaves, in comparison with conventional lenses.
On a typical lens, there are two surfaces. The sunshine enters the lens, bends, travels in a straight line, after which bends once more because it leaves, with its trajectory based mostly on the refractive index of that lens. However Peak Nano’s lenses can include as much as 1.2 million nanolayers, with every layer particularly chosen for its refractive index. That lets the corporate rigorously tailor the main target and backbone, the transparency, the load and extra.
That applies to different potential functions, too. The corporate’s power is each within the nanotechnology and the polymers it makes use of, stated Wendy Hoenig, chief advertising and gross sales officer. The polymers in its movies are particularly chosen for his or her properties in areas like power or temperature. Meaning the merchandise they’re making might be made lighter or smaller than comparable ones. Hus famous that nano-layered movies might be used to manage the cost in a capacitor for an electrical automobile, spreading it out among the many layers.
And the method adjustments how recycled supplies can be utilized. Recycled layers might be tucked in between virgin supplies, retaining the properties of the brand new materials, Hoenig stated. Usually, merchandise that include a mixture of recycled items lose properties as these supplies are blended collectively. This can be a extra intentional method.
“That may be a large strategic benefit for us,” Hoenig stated.
The movies produced in Valley View are used to make Peak Nano’s optics merchandise. Hoenig stated the corporate additionally plans to make the movies obtainable to prospects in a wide range of industries, whether or not that is by direct gross sales or licensing agreements. Peak Nano nonetheless is figuring out these enterprise fashions. On the optics aspect, Hus stated Peak Nano designs all the system and integrates its lens into the product.
The Macedonia facility, a former metal warehouse, supplied the bodily stability wanted for making the optics merchandise, Hus stated. It is about 40,000 sq. ft, together with about 8,000 sq. ft of workplace house. It additionally boasts a ten,000-square-foot ISO 7 clear room the place the movies are processed, layered and inspected. The everyday roll of optical movie is about 500 ft, and the refractive index is examined each 2 and half ft, Hus stated.
There are 18 robots within the clear room, 12 of that are liable for manufacturing. Hus stated they’ll make as much as 250,000 lenses a 12 months. The robots minimize and stack the movies within the clear room in Macedonia, and the lenses are compression molded and in any other case completed in Valley View.
Welsh stated Peak Nano has invested about $40 million within the two Ohio areas. And he expects that funding to proceed to develop.