Original Date: 07/14/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Technology Support
The startling growth experienced by Thermacore in just a couple of years would seem, at first glance, to be the story of a company achieving overnight success. Most of this growth resulted from the market created by the increased power dissipation requirements of Intel Corporation’s Pentium chip for notebook computers. This market turned out to be a perfect match for Thermacore’s heat pipe technology. However, development of this technology did not happen overnight. As an outgrowth of more than 30 years of engineering development, Thermacore created a superior product which surpassed other available options in the marketplace. This solid technology base is the cornerstone and foundation of Thermacore’s competitive edge.
The company was founded in 1970 as an engineering development company. Its founders were working at RCA in the early 1960s on high temperature heat pipe applications for cooling nuclear reactors. This work led to the development of a whole new technology for heat pipes which covered a wide range of temperature regimes and used a variety of envelope materials and fluid media. Thermacore took over this development as RCA got out of the business in the early 1970s. Initially, the work was supported by a few government contracts. In the early 1980s, the company began receiving Small Business Innovative Research grants to develop and commercialize its technology. The company also began doing research and development work for some of the large aerospace firms. By the late 1980s, the company had begun developing designs using copper tubes and sintered copper powder wicks that provided thermal power dissipation characteristics an order of magnitude beyond those achieved by earlier designs. Increasingly, customers began turning to Thermacore for specific cooling applications and assistance in solving difficult design problems. Thermacore began developing products to meet specific customer needs by drawing on its strong engineering and technology base.
By the early 1990s, the company was developing a manufacturing base, but continued to maintain a strong research and development emphasis. Throughout the history of the company, Thermacore has maintained a policy of investing 10% of its sales revenues back into engineering. Every job price includes a 10% charge for internal research and development. This strategy is important because most sales are made by educating the customer in regard to the engineering and cost advantages of heat pipe technology and by solving tough engineering problems for the customer. Most sales are made on an engineer-to-engineer basis. This requires a heavy investment in engineering and product development for each customer, but Thermacore has found that it pays off in customer loyalty, trust, and repeat business. An Applications Engineering group works closely with customers to ensure that their requirements are met.
Exploding demand for heat pipe technology applications in recent years has ushered Thermacore into an environment of high volume manufacturing and brought about many changes in the company. However, the company still maintains its strong commitment to technology, and sees this as the key to gaining an ever-increasing market share for its products on the world market. The company is maintaining its 10% investment in internal research and development, and is creating joint sales/application engineering teams comprised of engineering and sales personnel who work closely with customers to meet their needs and develop customized design solutions. Teams are in place for mobile computers, high-end computers, telecommunications, and traction market applications. Increases in full-time, advanced-development personnel are planned. Thermacore has set a goal of developing two new products and entering two new market areas each year.
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