Nanocomp Technologies started as a spin-off from technology development company Synergy Innovations. Five years ago the Concord, N.H.-based business, started by Peter Antoinette and David Lashmore, began making carbon nanotube yarn and sheet material for various segments of the composites industry.
How did you break into the composites industry?
Unlike other typical start-up companies, I came from a business background and joined with David Lashmore, who comes from a technical background. Lashmore was the one who came up with the technical ideas, and I connected the dots to where there was room for increased value in the market. Now, five years later, we have grown from two to 35 people.
In what area have you seen the most success?
We decided to shy away from bulk material product and focus on parts that engineers could use. We have seen real traction in utilizing our materials on a composite as an EMI shield, especially in aerospace. This is leading to new types of composites that have several functions, such as structural strength with electrical conductivity.
When will you know you’ve succeeded as a company?
We are taking off at the moment. We’ve moved from R&D to a bench and pre-pilot stage. However, we still have to invest more time and money in order to move up in the production scale. We are planning to build a 100,000 square foot production facility that will make sheets and yarns at industrial scale product volume. Ultimate success will be measured by major customers purchasing all the materials we can make.
Where have you found room for composites inclusion?
One of the biggest areas we’ve found is to replace copper wire in aerospace materials. For example, with a composite material that is 90 percent lighter than copper, aerospace structures like satellites or an aircraft like the new Boeing 787, which has 61 miles of cable, can see a drastic weight savings. We are also exploring composites for structural applications in aerospace, but this is early work with more to accomplish.
How were you able to partner with so many large companies?
In the beginning we had a small technical team focused on making demonstration products with compelling properties on the R&D side. Then I worked aggressively to get our name out, choosing specific and targeted trade conferences to attend that offered us one on one time with actual industry decision makers. A good one for us is the Materials for Defense conference, which offers small companies one-on-one time with industry representatives they would otherwise not be able to access. We now have a growing team that focuses on business development.