Hammer-IMS is a new spin-off from the internationally renowned research laboratory ESAT - MICAS of KU Leuven, and starts off with a capital injection of € 800.000. The investors are Gemma Frisius Fonds KU Leuven and Limburgse Investerings maatschappij (LRM). Both investment institutions gained years of experience in supporting high tech start-ups. After 8 years of research in the university, general manager Noël Deferm and technical & product manager Tom Redant started their company Hammer-IMS. Based on millimeter waves, Deferm and Redant developed new systems voor measuring thickness and weight in production lines. Their revolutionary measuring solutions are performing trial runs at international paper producers and manufacturers of plastic sheets and foils, composites, textile, glass wool and other materials. Hammer-IMS offers a powerful alternative for today’s nuclear measuring equipment, of which the usage is discouraged by the government. In short: performant industrial measuring solutions that are secure, ecologic and easy to install.
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Deep roots in KU Leuven
Before starting Hammer-IMS, Noël Deferm and Tom Redant worked for years as doctoral researchers in the ESAT - MICAS research group of KU Leuven. Noël specialised in the high frequency technology itself. Tom developed methods to retrieve useful dimensional information from the environment. They discovered that the electro magnetic waves slow down when penetrating materials such as paper and plastic. Through accurate time measurements, they succeeded in measuring the thickness or the basis-weight of a range of materials.
“The innovation is the combination of different specialties, which allows new applications to emerge,” says prof. Patrick Reynaert for ESAT - MICAS. “Through extensive research, Noël and Tom were able to take the lab measurements and successfully apply these on the production floor. Millimeter waves – the core of their measuring technology – are also used in mobile communication, adaptive cruise control and radar systems.”
Replacing nuclear measuring systems
“By controlling ever higher frequenties, we succeed in measuring materials faster and more accurately on the assembly line,” clarifies Tom Redant, technical & product manager. “This is good news for manufacturers with the ambition to equip their production lines with faster and more accurately quality control. In the meantime we built industrial prototypes of our measuring systems and developed a commercial portfolio of robust measuring solutions. The Hammer-IMS product offering currently contains entry level variants complemented with higher-performance measuring systems.”
Redant says that a number of international manufacturers – also in Flanders – have subscribed to test measurements with Hammer-IMS systems in their production lines. “We are in a favourable position because production halls are filled with nuclear measuring systems – of which Europe juridically stimulates the outfitting.”
Gemma Frisius Fonds, LRM and VLAIO
According to general manager Noël Deferm, setting up Hammer-IMS marks the formal transition from the university to the market place, supported by KU Leuven Research & Development. “Over the last months we improved our product offering and attracted investment capital to finance the further growth of Hammer-IMS. We are glad that established investors such as Gemma Frisius Fonds KU Leuven and Limburgse Investerings maatschappij (LRM) have decided to participate.”
“We are going to dedicate the invested resources to perfecting our technology, which is patent pending, and aligning it better with market requirements. We are also busy differentiating our offering further toward new markets, including composites, textile, glass wool and extruded foam. In addition, we received two-year funding from Vlaams Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen (VLAIO) to make a related technology ready for market. Ultimately we have the ambition to gradually make our millimeter waves based measuring technology the golden standard in our application domains.”
Situated in Corda campus, Hasselt
“To realise our ambitions, we recently moved to the Corda Campus in Hasselt. There, with our Hammer-IMS start-up, we stepped into an attractive growth project. In the Limburg region, we find a diversified eco system including many production machine manufacturers.” In the mean time, the Hammer-IMS team is extended with Tom De Bruyne (business development manager) en Rob Snoeijs (marketing manager). Tom previously worked for 3D Systems, LayerWise and Materialise, and Rob (Techno-Script) is involved with many tech companies en start-ups.