Please, tell us about your project.
We develop a hardware-software system for color laser metal marking. It is based on laser engraving machine called “Minimarker-2,” which is widely used in industry. Thus don`t develop a new kind of laser, we focus on upgrading of existing equipment. All required theory and experiments were in my PhD thesis. I researched the application of laser technologies in painting. Professor Vadim Veiko suggested this idea. Then we found out that it would be a promising project.
How does this system work?
Laser-induced coloration on metal surfaces is based on interference in fine oxide films. Usually heating a metal one can see mottling colors called “tempering colors.” Thanks to laser technologies it is possible to heat a surface pointwise. A metal changes its color by oxide film formation. However laser-induced coloration process is unstable. Having all other things equal, each heating results in different color. Our system makes this process predictable. So we get the very colors that we need. Thus we aimed to develop thought-out technology and software that provide automated production.
What metals do you use?
We color titanium, steel, brass, nickel, tungsten as well as gold and silver. We can mark any oxidized metal with color.
How many colors can be marked?
Comparing with RGB palette, which includes 225 colors, our color array consists of 20-25 ones. However we have all main colors. Moreover our images are resistant. Instead of dyes using we transform metals` surface. I have been dealing with color marking for five years. So those images that I made several years ago are still bright and clear. Moreover, we tested our images heating them in furnaces, treating with ultra-violet light and so forth. Using contactless technology we make high-res images (about 50 microns). We can color not only plane surfaces, but also cylindrical. These features make our development competitive.
Who are your potential clients?
We have divided them into four types. The first one is industrial companies producing metal products. Using color imaging one can make them more recognizable and protect against imitation. The second one is gift shops that have souvenirs marked only with black and white. Using our technology allows available items` assortment enlarging. And last but not the least is jewelry industry. Now we develop a technology to mark gold and silver with colors.
How do you plan to interact with companies?
We have a special service for companies dealing with laser marking. We can upgrade their equipment by installing our software. We also adjust and test it.
How much time marking usually takes?
Marking one square centimeter takes about three minutes. Black and white marking needs less time. Thus our technology is not appropriate for flow production because it is not very fast. We focus on developing unique things.
You developed your project at the base of startup accelerator Future Technologies. Please share your experience.
When we found out that our system had no analogues we understood that we had no business skills and didn`t know how to commercialize our development. Experienced experts taught us how to make a business plan, design a financial model, and attract clients and investors.
What are you going to present at SLASH-2015?
To make our stand more interactive and interesting we have developed booklets, movies and lots of marked items. We aim to find partners and investors. I suppose that we will succeed because we don`t need a great sum of money. Our project requires to rent a workspace and to pay salaries during the first year of ColorIT`s development so as to turn it into a small innovative enterprise. Currently we attract investments in Russia by applying for grants.
Can ColorIT offer something extraordinary?
Nowadays we deal with industrial needs offering logotypes` and branded items` marking. In the nearest future we are going to mark more complicated things. For example, we want to achieve professor Veiko`s dream, I mean to make copies of Monet`s pictures on metal surfaces. Nobody has seen such thing before!