Welcome to our blog, where you can keep up-to-date with the latest P2i news and developments. We will post articles regarding news, events we attend, speaker presentations as well as explaining the nanotechnology industry.

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

From the Inside: Treating Filtration Media

Delivering cutting-edge nanotechnology to the world’s largest and most prestigious manufacturers is no easy feat. The From the Inside blog series will take a deeper look into the elements that make up P2i’s successes.    

In this blog post Dr. Nick Rimmer, Vice President - Filtration and Business Development, will be discussing P2i’s revolutionary advances in the filtration industry. Nick has over 20 years’ experience working with thin film deposition technologies across a range of industries including microchips, LEDs, lasers, MEMS devices, semiconductors, electronic devices, footwear and filtration media. He is the driving force behind P2i’s successes in the filtration industry. 

What does P2i bring to the filtration industry?

We have been working on many new and interesting applications with a diverse range of manufacturers who seek protection against a variety of liquid hazards. We help companies improve the performance of their current offerings, everything from filters for car headlamps to applications in gas turbines, and enable them to create new products with liquid repellent solutions. 

What makes P2i unique?

P2i applies a nano-coating which dramatically lowers the surface energy of a product, achieving such high levels of liquid repellency that even difficult substances like oils and alcohols bead up and roll off. Oil is a major issue in the filtration industry and P2i provides levels of repellency higher than any other technology.

Traditional methods of coatings are often applied by spray, screen spreader or dip-coating and have many limitations. Often they have poor adhesion to the substrate and many are unsuitable for highly porous or breathable materials due to the blocking of the pore structure. P2i’s patented pulsed-plasma deposition process achieves high levels of liquid repellency without affecting the weight, breathability and mechanical strength of the product or material, because it is applied at the nano-scale - around 1000 times thinner than a human hair.
For our customers, realizing that our solutions are not only water repellent but also oil repellent is game-changing during product development stages.  

What recent developments have P2i made in the filtration industry?

Our new roll-to-roll system is a real triumph for P2i and will bring huge benefits to our filtration customers. By adapting our existing systems and working alongside partners who are highly experienced in roll-to-roll handling of materials, P2i has developed an exceptional new system. This system not only provides a high technical effect but has increased productivity and significantly lowered running costs. For me seeing the project progress from an initial idea to a system which is ready to go out to the customer is something I consider to be a career highlight.

What is your vision for P2i’s future in this industry?

P2i will continue to deliver exceptional service to our filtration customers, whilst ongoing research and development of new systems will increase throughput - essential for the cost-sensitive materials market. With faster speeds and the ability to process thin, fragile and porous media, P2i will be able to treat highly breathable membranes, opening new opportunities such as high-performance sportswear. And for an invisible liquid repellent technology, this just the tip of the iceberg! 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

From the Inside: Manufacturing

Delivering cutting-edge nanotechnology to the world’s largest and most prestigious manufacturers is no easy feat. The From the Inside blog series will take a deeper look into the elements that make P2i such a success.

First up is Supply Chain Manager, Chris Palmer. With a background in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and an MSc in Manufacturing (Management and Technology), Chris is instrumental in ensuring that the great technical effects we produce in the labs are replicated out in the field.

What do you do?

P2i offers solutions to global manufacturers to add water repellent and waterproof nano-coatings to their products. Our solutions add reliability and increased technical performance to products at the point of manufacture. My role is to ensure we are supplying the best quality equipment in the most efficient and cost effective manner. 

How is the tech applied?

Despite being highly technical and offering variable perimeters, our goal is to make our systems extremely easy to use on the factory floor.

In a smartphone manufacturing line, the batches of items are loaded into the system, right at the end of production as the last step before packaging. Our coating material is applied as a vapor under low pressure. The patented pulsed-plasma then bonds the coating material to the surface and the internals of the electronic devices (it’s a nano-coating so it’s able to penetrate throughout the phone). The coating has an extremely low surface energy, so instead of being attracted and sticking to the surfaces, water and other liquids are now repelled from the treated devices.

Why don’t you coat my phone as a consumer?

There are a number of reasons why we have chosen as a company not to coat individual phones at a retail level at this stage. From my point of view it comes down to quality. As a high-tech company we aim to optimize the process for each product or device. If you don’t have that tight relationship with the device manufacturer; then you are essentially using the same coating or similar recipe on many models or make of devices and optimal results are less likely to be achieved.

How much variation is there in terms of systems for different products?

Working closely with the OEMs and contract manufacturers, who are actually producing the electronic device, ensures that we can optimize and tailor the coating exactly to the requirement of the customer’s product. We can adjust these recipes or elements on an individual system, without needing to change the process itself. We do however have a range of systems which work well for different target markets. For example, we have a machine which has an 8 liter chamber which works well in the Hearing Aid industry coating low volumes of product, while our biggest system has a 2000L chamber for processing larger items, including rolls of filtration media.

How do you see these systems and solutions developing in the future?

Our customer base continues to grow vastly year-on-year. Our equipment diversity is also growing as we develop our technology into different customer markets. These new systems allow us to further customize our technology to meet the specific needs of our customers and their products.

However, having a strong customer base for our standard systems allows us to continue to build on our high standards of manufacturing. Ongoing continuous improvement mean reduced lead times on the manufacturing, testing and validation of these systems. Our current processes are very slick. From the point of product placement purchase to delivery, we can get machines to our customers within weeks. It’s something we are very proud of and a key element to the success of P2i in high-volume manufacturing.  

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