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Ahead of the Curve


In a scientific world that is different to many others, Siltech operates to develop inks and lacquers. Genevieve Lewis talks to managing director Dr John Bannard

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Dr John Bannard (pictured) founded Siltech, along with Dr Naz Khan

Welcome to my laboratory

With over 80 years of experience between them, Dr John Bannard and Dr Naz Khan discussed the idea of Siltech, wanting to build a business from the ground up through their love of colour chemistry.

It was through this mutual interest and experience that Siltech came to be in 2006. The plan was to develop a portfolio of products over the next five years to put the company at the forefront.

Managing director, Dr Bannard, explains: “At that point, it was planned to seek investment into the company to allow it to build a commercial structure and start the process of marketing and selling. The products were to respond to energy sources ranging from Gamma radiation through Ultraviolet, up the electromagnetic spectrum to near Infrared, far Infrared to Thermal.”

Based in Nottingham, Siltech uses its laboratory to make inks and lacquers which can be stimulated with energy to produce a change in colour or in volume, among other things. These dynamic inks can respond to stimuli including: mechanical pressure or tension, Gamma radiation, UV radiation, heat, steam, Ethylene Oxide and Infrared laser radiation.

Siltech has its premises in Nottingham

It’s a scientific world, but with investment still not secured eight years later, Siltech and the growth of the business has depended on the finance of principals and “enthusiastic” efforts of the team to continue. It is obvious that Siltech is dedicated to offering a great service, as it relies on its website and on referrals from satisfied customers.

Siltech celebrated its first sale in 2010 – it was an irreversible colour change ink for Tamper-Evidence

Siltech celebrated its first sale in 2010 – it was an irreversible colour change ink for Tamper-Evidence. This showed evidence of the use of heat to soften the adhesive in an attempt to access a security pouch. “Today, more than 20 different colour and temperature variants of irreversible thermochromes, called Thermoprint, are offered. One range of applications is ‘TIBS’ Thermoprint Ink for Brand Security, which is the use of more than one colour type of Thermoprint printed as small adjacent patches.”

Spells and potions?

In terms of the ranges that Siltech has developed since its inception, sterilisation monitor labels and inks called ‘Sterisure’ is just one of them. These products can change colour to reveal that a sterilisation process has been completed according to ISO11140. These products are offered for gamma irradiation, steam autoclaving, for ethylene oxide treatment and gas-plasma technique.

Other products include labels, stickers, business cards, bottle labels and wristbands, all under the name ‘SunCheck’. This range monitors UV in the skin’s Erythemal Response Spectrum and warns when the skin has received a safe dose – good for promotional sales and for retail. On the other end of the spectrum, there is UViBlock, which has been concocted to exclude UV and is a lacquer that is crystal clear in the visible spectrum above 400nm, but opaque in the UV spectrum below 370nm. It is available as solvent-based or water-based. An example of its use comes in the form of one user reporting that his product, olive oil, was lasting up to ten times longer, as previously it was being spoiled by daylight UV.

Some examples of products that have been developed over the years

Other products available that are activated by Infrared include Silmark. This is a high-speed, non-contact, high-quality printing process. It offers a number of advantages including speed, print quality and cost, as well as being more kind to the environment. Dr Bannard says that this is the flagship product for Siltech, and that it could have a world market potential of £3bn per year but says that gaining funding to really sell this project is tough. “We can only work with resources we have,” says Dr Bannard. “And we have gained customers in all six inhabited continents. The future for Siltech, if only by organic growth, looks quite attractive.”

The future for Siltech, if only by organic growth, looks quite attractive

Visitors to The Print Show 2019 will be able to visit Siltech and discuss its technology and the thinking behind the company. It is the company’s second year at the show.

Organic growth

This “organic growth” has witnessed the two founding doctors to grow their team to seven members of staff. “Employee number seven has just joined as the company’s sales department,” says Bannard. The company hopes to grow to a team of 17 or 18 eventually, and Siltech’s premises at Lenton has the space available to expand in the future. Dr Bannard and Dr Khan will continue to work on new products, as research and development is part of the makeup of Siltech. It is in its DNA. The project currently being explored is the development of the next generation Silmark, called Ledmark – a print engine based on energy from a Light-Emitting Diode (LED) and small enough to drive a cash-out printer or even a desktop printer. Siltech hopes that it will attract investment for the development of this project as well.

Siltech member of staff Liam Anslow in the factory

With the brains, collective experience and available space, Siltech can become something great. The company, along with Dr John Bannard and Dr Naz Khan, just need that little extra support from potential investors. But for now, the dynamic duo will continue to grow organically, paving the way for new technology.

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