(NOTE: This is the final article in a five-part series spotlighting the work of the second cohort of start-ups comprising Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Innovation Crossroads” initiative. They arrived in the area in May to begin their two-year effort to further advance their early stage energy-focuses companies.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“We decided we wanted to pursue a company and make something real out of our research,” Matt Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TCPoly Inc., told us.
The other part of the “we” equation is Co-Founder Thomas Bougher, a fellow classmate in the doctoral program at Georgia Institute of Technology. “We were doing our doctorates together and shared a small closet office with no windows for four years,” Smith said.
In October 2016, they launched TCPoly to develop a new class of high thermal conductivity plastic composite materials designed to improve heat dissipation, allowing for metal replacement and light-weighting, cost and component reductions, and improved performance and reliability. The materials also exhibit the unique ability to be 3D-printed, allowing thermal engineers to rapidly and inexpensively prototype multi-functional thermal solutions and enabling the design of heat transfer products that cannot be manufactured using traditional methods.
Today, Smith is participating in the second cohort of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) “Innovation Crossroads” initiative, while Bougher remains at the start-up’s home office in Atlanta. Both are engaged full-time in the new venture.
“We have complementary skills,” Smith says. His doctorate is in materials science and engineering, while Bougher’s is in mechanical engineering. They started the company with six 3D printers and a couple of polymer extruders housed in, you guessed it, Bougher’s garage.