Integran Technologies, Inc.
January 28, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
As a world leader in Development and Manufacturing of Electrodeposited (Plated) Nanocrystaline “Nanovate™” Metals, Integran Technologies, Inc. is providing Nanotechnology Materials for Corrosion and Wear Resistant Metal Components and Coating to Shield Components from Low Frequency Magnetic Interference
About Integran Technologies, Inc.:
Integran is a world leader
in development and manufacturing of revolutionary electrodeposited (plated)
nanocrystalline “Nanovate™” metals. Our nanotechnology-enabled metals take
advantage of the fine crystalline grain structure to achieve superior
performance at reduced weight vs. conventional material solutions. Our
technology platform consists primarily of Nickel, Iron, Cobalt and Copper
alloys that we use to create high performance parts that: can provide
corrosion and wear resistance toother metal components
such as steel, can be used as a coating to shield components from low
frequency magnetic interference.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – January 28, 2013
Dr. Palumbo: We were formed in 1999 as a spinoff of a large electrical utility here in Canada at the time, which is called Ontario Hydro, which ran twenty nuclear reactors. We came out of the nuclear program, and we were actively involved in developing new materials for use in nuclear reactor components primarily for extending the life of nuclear reactors. In collaboration with a number of universities around North America, we actually developed some very interesting new materials and processes for producing those materials, which were based upon shrinking the internal grain structure of metals and the end result was materials with interesting structural and functional properties. These were the earliest materials in an area, which has now become known as nanotechnology or nanomaterials. When we launched the spinoff company in 1999, we were ready to focus on the development and commercialization of those materials and that is what we have been doing ever since.
CEOCFO: What are the main products that you are producing?
Dr. Palumbo: Most of the key applications are in the aerospace and defense area, so we cannot really talk too much about these in detail except that they involve materials that have high strength and wear resistance or high resistance to impact for lightweight applications. The spinoff applications have included many industrial applications like highly durable hydraulic bars for use in all sorts of industrial environments. We have some sporting goods products through one of our companies in California called PowerMetal that we use as a commercialization vehicle for sporting goods. We have products such as Golf shafts and Putter Heads and so on that we sell to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). We are commencing to move into the biomedical area and that is something that we have in the works right now.
CEOCFO: What kinds of things are you looking to produce in biomedical?
Dr. Palumbo: Mostly components for biomedical devices, not for implants to be left inside the body. There are many things like surgical tools and so on that are made out of rather expensive machined metal. There is a push to reduce the cost of healthcare and one of the ways of doing that is through reducing the cost of some of these components and devices that are in many cases single-use and then thrown out. What we have been able to do is develop a series of hybrid components where we marry our nanocrystalline metals with inexpensive substrates; injection molded plastics is probably the best example of it. By doing that, we can create the equivalent of a high performance metal simply by putting a metallic exoskeleton on the outside of a component that has been made using a very inexpensive injection molding plastic process.
What is the competitive landscape for you?
CEOCFO: What is it in the process that you have figured out that allows you to make the products better and cheaper?
Dr. Palumbo: We have had very productive collaborations with very large organizations throughout North America over the past many years. One of the things that we really focused on is working backwards from the end applications to find a full engineered solution to the problem. One of the key things that we have developed over the years is an ability to get our material to stick to other material. We have some tremendous capability that nobody else has, to get our material to stick to plastics and carbon fiber composites and so on. What this allows us to do is to create these exciting novel hybrid structures where you are marrying very dissimilar materials and are able to get some unique synergistic properties.
CEOCFO: How do you decide what do develop? Are people coming to you for help with this or do you look around to find you can do better? What is the strategy?
Dr. Palumbo: It is a combination of both. Over the years, we have done a lot of work for the US Department of Defense in some pretty exciting application areas. These are applications of which, we would never have been involved without their direct involvement. In most cases, these are not applications that we went looking for but were solicited by the DoD. In other cases, we targeted certain application areas, for example in the sporting goods area, when we saw what our materials could do in aerospace and defense we began looking at the application areas of sporting goods where some of our material properties or component properties would be attractive.
CEOCFO: Is it difficult to get knowledgeable people to work on your projects?
Dr. Palumbo: We have not had that problem, I think it is because we are kind of at the leading edge of materials development, so we have no problem getting folks who want to work with us either working here on a full time basis or collaborating with us. We have had terrific interactions with folks in some of the leading materials research centers across North America including Carnegie Melon University and the University of Toronto and so on.
CEOCFO: How do you reach perspective customers or are they coming to you now?
Dr. Palumbo: In many industries, they are coming to us now. Although when we targeted a sector like the aerospace area, we did look for the key groups within the larger aerospace companies who are looking for new materials. In many cases, they are looking for new materials to reduce weight and to get fuel efficiency from doing that.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Dr. Palumbo: It is good. We have been at this a while and it takes a long time to bring new materials to the marketplace. This is why our business is not really within the realm of venture capital as it can take upwards of ten to fifteen years to bring new types of materials to the marketplace. There are lengthy qualification periods. For example, one of the material technologies that we developed in collaboration with the US Department of Defense as well as with the Canadian Industry Canada and the Canadian Defense Organizations, was a replacement technology for hard chrome deposition processes, which are known to be carcinogenic and there is an international effort to ban its use. We began developing this new coating technology in the year 2000 and the military process specification for this new coating technology is only commencing now. We have had a few commercial applications but the main commercial applications are actually just around the corner.
CEOCFO: How do you deal with the frustration as a company or is it that you are used to dealing with the lengthy process?
Dr. Palumbo: You cannot expect investors to invest in something that takes that long, so we became quite effective at getting research contracts from the US and Canadian government as they are quite interested in supporting these kinds of technologies because of the long-term benefits. We also interacted effectively with organizations where those long development cycles are understood and aerospace is a very good example of that. It can take many years to get a new technology onto an aircraft, which is the bad news. The good news is that once you are in, you are in for twenty to thirty years. Our focus has been on getting the research and development dollars, as well as focusing on industries where long development cycles are acceptable.
CEOCFO: What is ahead?
Dr. Palumbo: Some of our technologies are hitting the marketplace now, so we actually are looking for some substantial growth over the next few years.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to Integran?
Dr. Palumbo: I think we are the kind company that the people that have made investments in high technology companies may want to partner with in order to bring out new and revolutionary products. I think we are an enabler for a number of other technology areas. We have in the past and will continue to look at establishing joint venture companies in various sectors and we will be looking at the investment community for key partnerships in those areas.
CEOCFO: What should people remember most when they read about Integran?
There have been many nanotech companies out there that were launched, many
of them prior to when we were. I think we are one of the few that are still
standing, which is a testament to the caliber of employees that we have and
the exceptional partners that we have been able to work with; both
industrial partners as well as partners at universities across North
“There have been many nanotech companies out there that were launched, many of them prior to when we were. I think we are one of the few that are still standing, which is a testament to the caliber of employees that we have and the exceptional partners that we have been able to work with; both industrial partners as well as partners at universities across North America”. - Gino Palumbo
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