April 24, 2008 — Seven months ago the southeastern Minnesota town of Rushford was ravaged by flash floods. Today, an agreement between the University of Minnesota and local company Rushford Hypersonic is helping the town recover.
Under the agreement, nanoparticle film deposition technologies developed at the university will be used by Rushford Hypersonic on products in the industrial tooling and coating applications industries. The company eventually expects to create 40 to 60 jobs at its facility in Rushford.
“The University of Minnesota produces some of the world’s best nanotechnology, and we are very pleased to sign this agreement with them,” said Daniel Fox, Rushford Hypersonic’s CEO. “The university worked closely with us throughout the entire process and helped structure the agreement so that we can bring these technologies to market very quickly.”
“The university aims to be an effective partner with industry,” said Jay Schrankler, executive director at the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC). “This agreement with Rushford Hypersonic is a great example of how we can make it easy for companies to find what they’re looking for at the university and establish long-term partnerships.”
The nanoparticle film deposition technologies were developed over the past decade by professors Steven Girshick, Joachim Heberlein and Peter McMurry in the university’s mechanical engineering department, William Gerberich in chemical engineering and materials science and Nagaraja Rao, formerly in mechanical engineering.
“The processes provide a variety of coating technologies that are harder, more wear resistant and less heat generative than standard coatings used in the industrial tooling industry today,” said Eric Hockert, technology marketing manager at OTC. “Rushford Hypersonic will use these processes to coat and sell industrial tooling and develop coating applications for materials that can benefit from the improved hardness and friction reduction that these processes offer.”
Rushford Hypersonic will manufacture parts locally in Rushford and employ the area’s skilled work force. They will use Web-based technology to market and sell their products, and will partner with a global distributor. Expansion into other markets will take place as new applications are developed for industrial and automotive surfaces (e.g., camshafts, valves, bearings) and medical applications, such as the ball and socket in an artificial hip. The company also will join forces with the university by providing funding for a graduate research assistantship in the nanotechnology research program.