Haverhill firm leading the way in lighting technology
Light emitting dials, or LED’s awa we more commonly call them, is not perhaps an area that would set the pulse of your average person in the street racing.
Bust the jargon that can baffle the non-scientifically minded among us, however, and you may find that the work being done at one Haverhill tech company in the field of thermal management technology (or in simple terms finding a way of reducing the heat given out by LEDs) suddenly becomes much more interesting.
Cambridge Nanotherm moved to Homefield Road in Haverhill from Cambridge in 2013 in order to be able to progress from just research and development (R&D) into the production level of manufacturing, something it had done since being founded in 2010.
The move has clearly paid divideds as the company has not only seen its sales of nanoceramic thermal management solutions soar in 2015 - with hopes of doubling production in 2016 - but it has also found itself shortlisted for two prestigious industry awards.
Is is the only British company in the final of the global R&D 100 Awards (called the Oscars of Invention), which takes place tomorrow (13) at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
It is also a finalist in the Elektra Awards in the LED Lighting Product of the Year category for its product, the Nanotherm DM, the winner of which will be announced on November 23.
And the upward trend for the company, which employs 20 people, has also seen it export its product to countries in Asia that until now have been sending their products in the opposite direction.
John Cafferkey, Cambridge Nanotherm’s marketing manager, outlined the progress made by the company this year, saying: “We have taken it from R&D to getting the facility here up and running and going out to market, so we’ve moved from being R&D to mass production.
“We are a UK manufacturing company that actually exports our product and we sell it into markets like Taiwan, Japan and China.
“They would historically be shipping that stuff to us so we are doing something about the trade balance.”
But what exactly is thermal management about?
Cambridge Nanotherm’s CEO, Erwin Wolf, explained: “When you talk about thermal management every good electricity conductor is also a good thermal conductor.
“Every good isolator is also a very bad thermal isolator, but sometimes you need material which is a good thermal conductor but also an isolator and this is where we come in.”
It’s work has led to the creation of Nanotherm DM, an aluminium panel that’s been converted into a nanoceramic aluminium panel with a circuit on top. It is an innovative material that saves LED manufacturers a lot of money.
Mr Wolf continued: “You can use it in areas where you can create a lot of heat which you have to remove away but you would like to electronically isolate the part where you remove the heat and this is where we come in.
“Light emitting dials is the new generation of light generation.
“You want to have a lot of light out of the LEDs so you can put a lot of current in it in order to get a lot of light out of it, but then the LED gets very hot and the heat you want to remove from the LEDs and this we do with our material.”
LED’s are used in sorts of everyday lighting products,such as vehicle indicators and headlights, general lighting, street lighting and in industrial manufacturing.
Mr Wolf went on to say: “At the moment the cost of creating the isolating thermal conducting material falls into the world of ceramics, which are very expensive.
“We offer the only alternative to ceramic products.”
We can only compete with innovation and if you are innovative where the reduced cost is inherent to the new technology then you have got a chance to compete.”
The possibility of winning prestigious industry awards beside, the future is looking good for Cambridge Nanotherm, as Mr Wolf explained: “I think awards are a very nice side effect but we are not here to win awards, we are here to build up a business. If we get an award that’s great, but as long as we can fulfil our customers needs then we are happy.
“Expansion follows customer requirements. We are especially now dealing with some quite large international companies with potential orders so we should be seeing clearly by the beginning of next year whether we are going to move forward and if this happens then we will need to double our capacity, or even more than double our capacity.
“We will need to do this by the middle or end of 2016 and we plan to do this here in our Haverhill factory.”