Laser Thermal Case Study

The Results

The following are anticipated impacts:

$4.5M in sales
$375K in cost savings
$325K in investments
12 jobs created or retained

About Laser Thermal

In 2020, Laser Thermal began as a spinoff from the University of Virginia, and today is a local Charlottesville-based company dedicated to providing accessible thermal measurements of materials primarily focusing on thin films. Laser Thermal designs and manufactures thermal metrology equipment that can measure thermal properties down to the atomic scale. Utilizing optical techniques, Laser Thermal provides simple, accurate, and rapid measurements of the thermal properties of materials. Laser Thermal offers contract testing and tool sales to best serve customer needs.

The Challenge

During the pandemic, the GO Virginia Program for Retooling Virginia Manufacturers for Strategic Industries, a program managed by GENEDGE focusing statewide on helping participating manufacturers to shift their operations to emphasize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) production with the intent of growing their businesses to strengthen the supply chain in the United States and Virginia. Program participation involves two phases over a two-year period: Phase 1 (first year) focuses focus entirely on PPE with the expectation that additional critical supply chain opportunities would be identified at the industrial sector, state, or federal level. The processes and tools developed as part of the Commercialization Plan in Phase 1 are redirected to additional critical strategic supply chains in the second year – Phase 2. For manufacturers interested in producing products for critical industries, Phase 2 includes custom services to help address commercialization planning gaps, regulatory requirements, prototype development, new process development, and other relevant offerings to advance Virginia’s position in critical industries such as Healthcare, Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Information Technology, Semiconductors and Transportation. Laser Thermal’s ability to test the thermal properties of semiconductor materials made them a perfect candidate for Phase 2.

MEP Center’s Role

Having completed Phase 1, three different areas were identified as possibilities for Phase 2 focus per use of the Porter Business Model. The resulting analysis allowed for discussion of the current structure and delivery capabilities of their business followed by developing a future state strategy with recommendations/action items.

1) SERVICE: ‘User Manual’ in support of the new product offering. Laser Thermal lacked resources internally of a technical writer to both write and communicate operational details for their technical products.
2) OPERATIONS: Expansion of warehousing, manufacturing, and testing space. At the time, management was considering expanding into the vacant adjacent business space. However, they were informed that the space may not be available. Instead, a suggestion of a contiguous space might be better than splitting a space. Once their ‘space issue’ was solved, then other needs for layout services for the warehousing, manufacturing flow, and quality assurance would have to be addressed. In addition, they may need assistance in documenting processes: assembly, quality check, material flow, and inventory management, all to avoid damage or loss while handling high dollar components.
3) OPERATIONS: Capital planning. This endeavor developed over three stages: (1) Analysis of Access Need – captures the business, operational, technical, capability and strategic situation of the company, including gaps in ability to finance or access financial resources; (2) Access Source Research & Review – financing sources are identified, based on company criteria in stage 1, from among a list of available private, commercial, federal and state funding resource possibilities; and (3) Source Acquisition Project – After identification of financing sources, GENEDGE assisted in narrowing the sources to the most optimal choice(s), given the company’s criteria and tolerance for (a) schedule, and (b) scope.

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Download the NIST sheet: Laser Thermal Case Study