Bruce Almeida believes when it comes to battery power, “thin is in.” As president of Loudin-Rex, a leading packaging design firm in Melville, N.Y., Almeida is working on the development of super-thin battery, so slender it can be incorporated into packaging. This built-in power source will create opportunities for affordable illuminated boxes, talking business cards, voice-activated displays, etc.
While advances in “thin technology” are not new, it is unusual to have a 28-year veteran of the packaging industry, with no electronics background, working so diligently on an alternative power source. “I’ve been in the packaging business for more than 20 years,” said Almeida. “Since 1994, I’ve been trying to identify a power source for items such as an interactive cosmetic display, but I’ve been unable to come up with a cost-effective solution. Furthermore, since I’m not an engineer, I wasn’t even sure if some of the things I wanted to do were even possible.”
Serendipitously, when Almeida found himself at a complete standstill, he received a brochure from the SATOP Center in Syracuse, New York. “The timing was perfect; I was hesitant about moving forward with this daunting project. Then, on my desk landed what was perhaps a way around my stumbling block – free engineering advice!” he said.
The Long Island Association, located in Commack, New York was the economic development organization that sent Loudin-Rex’s name to SATOP.
After receiving his Request for Technical Assistance, SATOP matched Almeida up with Dr. Yi Deng, a battery scientist with Lockheed Martin Space Operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Through numerous phone conversations between New York and Texas, Dr. Deng was able to advise Almeida regarding his idea of generating a small power source inside
a flat package. “The request was a personal challenge to me since Bruce knew very little about battery technology and his company had no battery manufacturing experience,” said Dr. Deng.
Despite this handicap, Dr. Deng was able to help Almeida in three key areas: 1) she educated him about what it would take to build his own power source from the ground up; 2) she established a contact between Loudin-Rex and a major battery manufacturer; and, 3) she suggested a reasonable battery design that could be manufactured inside a flat substrate.
“I believe Bruce was pleased with the information and advice I was able to provide. I hope my help will impact the company’s business in the future,” said Dr. Deng.
After working with Dr. Deng, Almeida was able to create a working business-card prototype and potential investors are examining its viability. “Yi clearly explained the manufacturing process to me, and for a time became my own personal battery expert,“ said Almeida. “Thanks to SATOP, I now have a prototype in-hand and my team is moving forward as we prepare to take this product to market.”
“All of us at SATOP are interested to see where this project might lead,” said Ryan McLaughlin, SATOP-NY Engineering Services Manager. “When a requester is dealing with subjects like thin technology and a new power source, the sky’s the limit!”