ACAMP CLIENT CASE STUDIES
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Synthesizing a new sound: Assembling Nanolog Audio’s molecular junction
for guitar amplifiers
Photo credit: John Ulan
“ACAMP is the place to go for rapid prototyping of this kind of nanotechnology. By developing a packaging and manufacturing solution for Nanolog Audio, ACAMP completed our device, leading to the launch of our first family of products.”
— Dr. Rick McCreery, CEO, Nanolog Audio Inc.
Discerning artists desire to develop a unique sound to differentiate their compositions. Serious guitar players would agree with Kafka: “Music is the sound of the soul, the direct voice of the subjective world.”
The way Adam Bergen describes it, the effect of the current technology (silicon materials) in guitar pedals lacks warmth and brilliance.
Recognizing this gap, he and Rick McCreery at Nanolog Audio Inc. patented a new technology for guitar pedals: a carbon molecular junction clipping circuit. It is at the core of their WaveFunction Overdrive guitar effects pedal.
This way of synthesizing electric guitar output yields a completely different sound effect from traditional silicon-based diodes.
At the heart of Nanolog Audio’s carbon molecular junction clipping circuit is a packaged “molecular junction (MJ)”, turned from nanotech on a tiny square into a part that someone can connect a guitar to. Each MJ had to be integrated to become part of an amplifier, waiting for a musician to jack in.
The ACAMP solution
ACAMP helped Nanolog Audio process the raw wafers from their lab and install them into labeled amps. This involved dicing the wafers into individual square dies, testing them, and assembling them in individually-marked packages that were reliable enough for genuine musicians. These precision parts needed careful handling in the ACAMP clean room.
Hyper-accurate saws were required to separate a wafer into many tiny dies without flexing or fracturing the wafer.
The accuracy of the testing also allowed Nanolog to monitor the quality of the MJs and present a desirable, consistent sound experience.
The meticulous engineering support ACAMP provided helped Nanolog Audio prepare guitar pedal parts for sale to discerning audiophiles. Now in production, the manufacturing process developed on ACAMP equipment is allowing Nanolog Audio to smoothly commercialize this new device for customers.
Watch a video about the production of molecular tunnel junctions (featuring Nanolog Audio’s WaveFunction Overdrive)
Elegant build & test solutions for Norcada Inc.’s new laser product line
“ACAMP’s portfolio of skills and advanced manufacturing equipment is an extremely valuable asset for our community. By working collaboratively with our engineering team and helping Norcada work through packaging and manufacturing challenges, ACAMP supplemented our skill set, leading to the launch of a new family of products.”
— Graham McKinnon, P.Eng., co-founder and president, Norcada Inc.
Norcada Inc. of Edmonton, Alberta, has manufactured precision optical components used in scientific applications since 2001. They supply finely-dimensioned silicon devices as sample holders for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-Ray microscopy.
Customer demand led them to design another product line: tunable lasers for gas spectroscopy applications.
However, making complicated devices like laser modules brought new design challenges.
They needed a mechanical, thermal and optical design that would enable the various components to be integrated in a small package with the requisite quality and performance.
The assembly process had to be compatible with small-volume prototyping as well as larger-volume production in a way that would allow confident repeated assembly with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
The ACAMP solution
To meet these engineering challenges, Norcada turned to ACAMP to study the design parameters and develop a suitable assembly process. The new assembly procedures made use of ACAMP’s advanced manufacturing equipment. The joint engineering team developed build techniques to ensure the challenging size requirements and tight placement tolerances could be consistently met.
Later, ACAMP developed accelerated lifetime testing methods to evaluate the reliability of the lasers and assembly procedures. This testing provided Norcada with the confidence that the lasers would meet their expectations for lifetime duration and reliability.
ACAMP’s targeted engineering support helped Norcada to overcome design hurdles quickly and effectively. The engineering product development experience of ACAMP staff contributed greatly to this design-for-manufacturing project, resulting in an elegant, robust solution that works well in harsh environments. Now in production, the assembly process, which continues to make use of ACAMP’s advanced equipment, allows Norcada to efficiently produce tunable lasers for customers.
Norcada’s lasers can be found in environmental sensors used around the world including at refineries where emissions are controlled.
Helping SmileSonica Inc. commercialize the Aevo System™ for a global market
“ACAMP has been a most helpful partner throughout our growth — from research and development to product and market growth.”
– Cristian Scurtescu, MSc, P.Eng, Founder and CEO, SmileSonica Inc.
During his university R&D Engineer work, as part of a larger research team, Cristian Scurtescu worked on an early technology concept that would later become the foundation of a new product for orthodontic treatment – the Aevo System™.
Next, he resigned his full-time job with the university and founded SmileSonica Inc. to develop the Aevo System using his product engineering knowledge.
He approached ACAMP to assist his innovation from concept to product to market.
The ACAMP solution
Early in the product design, ACAMP helped SmileSonica by providing a review of the electronics design and offering guidance for the design of early prototype circuit boards.
Early prototype creation revealed that the theoretical ultrasonic energy transfer to the dental tissues in a patient’s mouth needed further optimization.
ACAMP helped SmileSonica to study the design using advanced multi-physics simulation software. The joint engineering team discovered that the shape and size of the transducers was a key element of the energy transfer efficiency.
Also ACAMP provided an approach to transducer characterization using advanced electronic test equipment. This helped with quality control of transducers.
Later SmileSonica purchased its own equipment for use in manufacturing.
Most recently ACAMP provided quick turn prototyping for electronic assemblies enabling SmileSonica to reduce the cycle time of research and development of improved products.
Since overcoming these design challenges, SmileSonica has gone on to commercialize the Aevo System™, which is now in commercial clinical use in Canada, Australia and several European countries. The Aevo System is marketed as a therapeutic ultrasound system that accompanies and accelerates orthodontic treatment without causing pain or undesired side effects; with regular use allowing faster tooth movement, shortened orthodontic treatment times, and improved long-term oral health.