Waterloo Engineering spin-off recognized for smart materials technology

Monday December 12, 2011
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
Less than a year after spinning off from the University of Waterloo's faculty of engineering, Innovative Processing Technologies (IPT) has been recognized by the Ontario government for its breakthrough Multiple Memory Material (MMM) technology, known for making smart materials smarter.

IPT and a Waterloo Engineering team, led by professor Norman Zhou, have been awarded market readiness funding by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). Valued at $130,000, this fund will support development and qualification of prototypes specifically for automotive applications.

OCE also awarded Ibraheem Khan, co-founder of IPT and a Waterloo mechanical engineering alumnus and researcher, the Martin Walmsley Fellowship for Technological Entrepreneurship. The one-year fellowship is valued at $50,000 and supports the transition of OCE-funded university-based research into innovative business ventures.

"The new MMM technology allows virtually any memory material to be quickly and easily embedded with additional local memories," said Khan. "This advance promises to revolutionize the manufacture of diverse products, such as medical devices, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), printers, hard drives, automotive components, valves and actuators."

Smart materials have also been identified as a top candidate for clean energy solutions that can secure energy security and efficiency.

IPT's new technology promises to enhance applications of shape memory alloys by making clean energy components lighter, more functional and efficient, the company said. In recognition of this achievement, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, Brad Duguid, recently presented IPT with the Innovation Company of the Year Award at the CleanTech North 2011 annual meeting.

Nearly a dozen prototypes using the MMM technology have been developed by IPT. Much of the work has taken place on the Waterloo campus by the company, which employs five people from Waterloo Engineering, including graduate students.

"This disruptive technology is poised to change the way shape memory alloy materials are implemented," said Zhou, a professor in the department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering. "The formation of IPT and continued development effort at Waterloo is a great example of commercialization of innovation developed at our university. All the while we are training our students to be leaders of tomorrow."

IPT, located in the Toronto-based MaRS Discovery District, is currently working with a number of clients in the automotive and aerospace sectors.

www.engineering.uwaterloo.ca

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