From iPhones to MRIs the components that make up the wonders of modern technology must undergo so pretty extreme tests before they meet the standards required by both research and the consumer market. Lasers, x-rays, spectroscopy, heat that would make the equatorial seem like a fresh breeze and cold that would put the Arctic winter to shame.
And when the researchers, scientists and engineers need to reach those frigid temperatures, they turn to ColdEdge Technologies in Allentown. For the past four years founders Ajay Khatri, Jeff Romig, Eric Lecher and Terry Rufer have been supplying the equipment that can reduce the testing temperatures to -455 Fahrenheit or -270 Centigrade – about as close to Absolute Zero as possible.
“They want to look at these materials in all temperatures to see how they react and respond,” Rufer explained during a recent tour of the ColdEdge assembly facilities at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. “And we have just the thing they want when they want to get it cold.”
Working with a staff of four full-timers and a handful of part-timers, ColdEdge use equipment purchased from the Sumitomo Heavy Industries Cryogenics Group – also based in Allentown – and modify the equipment to reach the frigid temperatures needed for materials research. Rufer, Romig and Khatri are Sumitomo alumni who left the company when it was still the Air Products “Advanced Products Division” and went out on their own to forge cold new pathways.
“We take their coolers and reconfigure them for research,” says Rufer, a Long Island native and trained civil engineer who began his career with Grumman Aerospace before coming to the Lehigh Valley to work for the APD Division. “We make the parts that go between cooler and the materials being tested.”
Rufer uses his past sales and marketing experience to build the client base while Katri uses his engineering and mechanical background to oversee the technical end of the business. In many ways, it has been a learning experience for both men as well as their employees.
“You can’t go to school and learn about this. There is no school that teaches cryogenics,” Khatri explains. “It really is a hodge-podge of different sciences.”
That’s why the company depends heavily on mechanically-minded staffers who can do the machining, milling, buffing and leak-testing and – most important — grasp the cryogenic principals and properties and translate that into building the equipment, adds Rufer.
Over the past four years at Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, they have built an international business with clients in the United States, Germany, India, China and Egypt, among others. Many of their clients are national laboratories right here in America – and as the recession subsides, business is growing.
“We started across the hall in a much smaller space and as we have grown and needed more space, AEDC (Allentown Economic Development Corp.) has worked with us to accommodate the growth,” Rufer said. “The facilities are very good, you can expand quickly, they will work with us on cash flow and we have access to experts.”
Because Bridgeworks is essentially a manufacturing incubator, the Cold Edge team knows they must eventually find new quarters. “Another three years or so and we’ll probably have to move out of here,” Rufer acknowledges. Meanwhile they continue to grow. He says the company will soon be looking to expand the team that has brought them this far.
Among the openings will be spots for mechanics, welders and an office manager to stay on top of the rapidly increasing paperwork load that comes with growth, he says.
To learn more about Cold Edge, contact Rufer at 610-628-6363 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://coldedgetech.com/.