Startup’s partnership opens doors to markets
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque startup 3D Glass Solutions Inc. has hitched a ride into the global electronics and communications markets through a new partnership with TE Connectivity Ltd.
3D Glass has created a new process that uses ceramics to build glass circuit boards that can reduce the size of electronics packaging in everything from mobile devices to satellite communications by 70 percent, while using 50 percent less power than circuit boards used in most products today.
TE Connectivity is a $12 billion public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s a global supplier of components for the electronics and communications industries.
Through the partnership, announced in October, the two companies will work to incorporate 3D Glass Solutions’ circuit boards into TE products, said 3D Glass founder and CEO Jeb Flemming.
“TE has many products with different requirements, so we’ll tailor our process to meet their demands,” Flemming said. “It’s a joint development agreement that at the end of the day will lead us into producing products for them here in Albuquerque. It’s a very large, well-known company, and we’ll now be able to leverage their existing supply chains to get our technology into the marketplace.”
3D Glass expects to begin producing circuit boards for TE next year.
That’s a huge achievement for a small Albuquerque startup that launched in 2006, said 3D Glass board Chairman Stuart Schoenmann, an investor in the company.
Schoenmann is former CEO of CVI Laser, a homegrown Albuquerque manufacturer of electro-optical devices that was acquired in 2011 by a Chicago-based firm for more than $400 million.
“TE Connectivity is a multibillion-dollar corporation,” Schoenmann said. “This directly connects us with one of the large industry players that is looking for miniaturization and improved performance in their communications and electronics packaging.”
3D Glass, which employs 15 people at a 5,000-square-foot facility near the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Park, expects to double its workforce next year as manufacturing for TE begins and as more industry customers seek 3D Glass circuit boards.
The company’s secret sauce is a proprietary glass ceramic it created dubbed APEXGlass. Its process allows it to etch circuit boards with ceramics directly into a glass plate, or wafer.
Glass has much better properties for conducting electronic and communication tasks than other materials commonly used today, such as silicon, Flemming said. It can also be used to make much smaller features, greatly reducing the size of finished circuit boards.