University of Leeds spin-out company Ionix has experienced high business growth since its move to the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield.
The company makes high temperature piezoelectric ceramics and ultrasound devices that can operate in high temperature and extreme environments to detect and monitor plant and machinery integrity. It moved to the 3M BIC in June last year and since then its number of staff has doubled in parallel with an ever expanding production capability.
Ionix was set up in 2011 by Professor Andrew Bell, Dr Tim Comyn and Dr Tim Stevenson from the University of Leeds’ School of Chemical and Process Engineering to create high temperature piezoceramics and devices for sectors such as oil, gas, energy, aerospace and automotive. The devices can be used in extreme conditions, in particular at high temperatures, for position sensing, crack monitoring, flow measurement and thickness monitoring, and are designed to improve safety, increase longevity of a product or machine, lead to greater productivity and save money.
Dr William Vickers, business development manager at Ionix, said: “Our devices reduce the need for companies to cool down their sites for maintenance by allowing continuous inspection and monitoring of safety critical parts at high temperature. Cracks are inevitable in machinery in extreme environments, however our products can be used to detect them at up to 400°C while machines and processes are still running. The cost savings to our customers of reducing planned and unscheduled shut downs runs into the millions of pounds. Other devices on the market can’t handle the high temperatures.
“We’re a high tech company working with high tech firms, and the 3M BIC fits in with that image – there’s a real buzz about the place. The building had all the basics we needed to get started and the 3M BIC technical team went out of their way to ensure that our specific requirements such as 3-phase electrical supplies and extraction systems were ready for when we arrived. Their support and willingness to accommodate our needs was invaluable.
“Since being at the 3M BIC, we’ve doubled our staff, doubled our equipment and grown our ceramics and devices capabilities, which enables us to keep up with growing demand for our products. Eventually, we hope to expand into full scale production in larger premises, whilst still maintaining a presence at the 3M BIC.”