New University spin out to deliver faster and safer engineering maintenance technologies

A new spin out company from The University of Nottingham is to help keep passenger planes in the air, while reducing the risk of injury to the engineering ground crews who maintain them.

The new company, Scintam Engineering Ltd, has been established to commercialise its new FastEDR (Fastener Electrical Discharge Removal) technology, which enables faster, safer and zero-damage disassembly for maintenance or for systems being decommissioned from service.

The technology can effectively dissolve metallic fasteners such as nuts, bolts, pins and rivets and replaces processes that are hazardous to the operator and often result in component damage. FastEDR can remove fasteners irrespective of their condition, including those that are seized, damaged or in difficult to access locations, increasing process efficiency by eliminating unforeseen delays during disassembly.

However, as well as targeting aerospace industry, Scintam has recognised the potential of the technology for other sectors, including the wind turbine and remanufacturing markets.

Commercialising the research

The technology behind Scintam’s upcoming products was a result of three years of University research in collaboration with Rolls-Royce in the Faculty of Engineering ACEL (Advanced Component Engineering Laboratory) Group led by Professor Adam Clare.

When the project was completed, it was clear that the benefits of the technology reached far beyond its aerospace roots and there was a strong pull to bring the technology to market as a commercial product, with a spin-out company the most effective way to achieve this.

Scintam CEO Sam Catchpole-Smith, a University of Nottingham Mechanical Engineering PhD graduate, was brought on board to commercialise the research via the Midlands Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe), a programme designed to move innovation out of universities and into the marketplace by supporting future business leaders in the process of customer discovery and business skills development.

Successful ICURe teams are invited to apply for a grant from the Government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, which is purpose-built for creating new University spin-out companies.

Following successful completion of the programme, the University of Nottingham has invested £50,000 into Scintam, with a commitment for a further £50,000 assisting the company in successfully leveraging the Innovate UK grant of £289,000 to support the fledgling company through the critical stage of transitioning University research into commercial products.

Demanding applications

Scintam is currently developing commercial products incorporating FastEDR technology for a variety of uses. The core product is a portable fastener removal tool with interchangeable tool heads that can be quickly adapted for numerous applications. The company intends to work with customers to design and manufacture customised tool heads for demanding applications including proprietary fastener types or those that are in difficult to access locations.

In the future it will aim to offer fully automated fastener removal solutions that use computerised numerical control (CNC) or robotic arms for high-throughput operations such as those seen in the remanufacturing sector.

“FastEDR is a step-change in maintenance tooling for a range of sectors. We are excited to bring products to market that benefit the full value chain – streamlining processes, increasing workplace safety, and reducing environmental impact through remanufacturing rather than replacing components” Scintam CEO Sam Catchpole-Smith.

He added: “Fasteners are a critical but often overlooked part of engineering systems; we will ensure our customers have the latest technology to eliminate disassembly headaches, saving time and cost in the process.”

With the creation of Scintam, the University now boasts a total of 28 spin-out companies in its portfolio, which is managed by its wholly-owned subsidiary Nottingham Technology Ventures.

Based in the Ingenuity Centre within the University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP), Nottingham Technology Ventures also manages the University’s Invention Fund and Pathfinder Fund dedicated to investing in University spin-out companies to accelerate their development and growth.

Dr Andrew Naylor, CEO of Nottingham Technology Ventures, said: “Scintam is the fifth spin-out company to be created this year based on outputs from research at the University of Nottingham. It is an excellent example of how companies are taking technology from the lab bench to market in order to deliver benefits to customers and generate real societal impact.”

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