George Hansen has always been fascinated with science. Perhaps it began in first grade when his mom gave him a book on plate tectonics or maybe when his dad taught him about the table of nuclides when he was 10. Whenever it began, George’s love of learning and experimentation has led him down a path of scientific entrepreneurship.
In 1984, George was working as an engineer for a Fortune 500 company when he decided to quit and pursue his own course. He came home, told his wife of his decision, and she looked him squarely in the eyes and said, “What took you so long?” With that, George set out on his own path and began to develop new technologies. That journey led to the award of 13 patents and the founding of Conductive Composites, a successful advanced materials technology company.
Today, Conductive Composites is a well-known technology company within the advanced materials industry in Utah and across the nation. Their mission is to bridge the performance capabilities and cost of lightweight next-generation composite and plastics materials systems with increasingly demanding conductivity and shielding requirements. Just like their name says, they create unique materials that are conductive and can be used across many different industries from defense to energy to consumer goods.
Conductive Composites proprietary process fuses nickel or other conductive metals into composites and plastics in a way that no one else can. This material is then used to shield unwanted electromagnetic energy or to conduct and send electric signals through the material.
One industry that has found a large use for this is the government. When drones, aircraft, and other sensitive equipment needs to be protected from outside electrical surges, the material created by Conductive Composites is up to the task. It can even be used to secure entire rooms from eavesdropping and outside signal penetration.
Although the government is a big part of their business right now, their President Nathan Hansen says they are seeing a lot of demand in the automotive and medical industries. “The automotive and medical industries have us really excited right now”, Nathan said. “We are currently manufacturing over 24 million feet of material annually for the medical industry and we expect that number to significantly grow.”
For the medical industry, being able to shield sensitive equipment to electronic interference is critical. In addition to that, more and more equipment needs to carry electronic signals for monitoring and feedback. This is leading to a high demand for materials that can carry and protect those signals.
In the automotive industry, Nathan pointed out that vehicles nowadays are being created with microchips, sensors, and computers in almost every system of the vehicle. While this is often a good thing, that equipment is susceptible to interference from the engine and other electronic signals on roadways. Traditionally, the way to block that interference is to build a metal box around the computer which adds weight and cost. However, with Conductive composites material, the equipment can be protected with a lightweight, cost-effective material.
This is what gets Nathan and the Conductive Composites team so excited for the future of their company. They see a perfect storm ahead where sensors and data signals are in just about everything. Those signals need to be easily sent through materials while also shielded from outside interference. “We’re very excited for the future of our company”, said Nathan Hansen. “Our company has grown from ideas in George’s head to a full operation with dozens of employees across two different counties. It’s amazing to see what’s happened in such a short time.”
With that growth has come much recognition for Conductive Composites. The recognition includes: R&D 100 Award, Micro Nano 25 award, NASA Nanotech 50 award, Frost & Sullivan Best New Product Award, Utah Innovator of the Year Award,TechConnect National Innovation Award, and most recently, in June 2018, George Hansen was awarded the prestigious Utah Governor’s Science Medal for his contribution to science and innovation in the state.
The future looks bring for Conductive Composites. Although they are challenged with providing solutions for many industries, they have honed in on the ones they consider the biggest opportunities for now. They are focused and ready to tackle any challenges that may arise.
As for George, he is still innovating and trying to solve new problems. He lives by his mantra, “You can make anything with God’s 92 Lego’s (referring to the periodic table). You just have to figure out how to put them together.”