Thermal tape, a material not usually thought about to the everyday consumer, is woven into almost every electronic device that people use. While there are applications of this material that impact the traditional consumer, Georgia-based Carbice, a company that is dedicated to designing, developing and producing its own thermal material, has set its sights on producing for clients in the space and aerospace industries.
Carbice’s thermal tape uses nanotechnology to remove heat from electronic devices and is used in satellites, but the growing company needed help to take their manufacturing operations to the next level. They also wanted to earn Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification before beginning to produce at full-scale, and they needed access to resources and guidance on how to navigate this unchartered territory.
Ultimately, they turned to the Georgia Center of Innovation (COI), thanks to researcher Dr. Billyde Brown at the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI). Brown understood the capabilities of COI and the access COI had to resources across the state. So as he worked with Carbice, Dr. Brown connected Carbice’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Craig Green with COI’s Senior Project Manager Alyssa Rumsey and Director of Manufacturing John Morehouse to make sure they received the personal assistance they needed to take off.
First, Rumsey and Morehouse spoke with the Carbice team and Dr. Brown over several meetings to understand the company’s goals and discuss how GTMI may be able to assist. These fact-finding conversations led Dr. Brown to submit a Commercialization Grant application on behalf of Georgia Tech, which received matching funds from the Center of Innovation for Manufacturing to partner with Carbice.
The grant project had two goals.
The first was to develop best manufacturing practices for Carbice’s thermal tape products to ensure scalability by up to 40x while achieving compliance with EPA government regulations concerning potentially hazardous substances called carbon nanotubes that are produced during manufacture of Carbice’s thermal tape.
The second goal was to have GTMI implement lessons learned from the project to formulate plans to create a new nanomanufacturing (NMfG) center at Georgia Tech. The vision for this center was clear: to serve as a hub for transitioning nanotechnology research, in conjunction with other Georgia Tech resources and facilities, and launch startups into more successful Georgia nanomanufacturing companies.
At GTMI, Carbice performed testing to measure the potential of nanomaterial release during their thermal tape product’s lifecycle. The results determined that particle release is negligible based on standard regulations, an important underscore for the robust construction of Carbice tape. Further, the results successfully showed the EPA that the company’s current practices and materials would not require respirators for typical daily operations in the factory.
This work accomplished the necessary goals, allowing Carbice to move forward, transitioning from research and development production to commercial state production. Thanks to the COI and Carbice relationship, to date the grant has enabled Carbice to sell to three customers and begin a ramp in significant revenue growth.
Now, since Carbice’s thermal tape has withstood the test of the meticulous, time intensive and stringent testing processes of their aerospace customers, then Carbice can confidently service any market, including consumer electronics with high reliability. With their product, they can improve the performance of these devices and make innovative design easier, and enable the next generation of smaller and cooler devices.