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Innovation & Startups

Plextronics inks deal with Sanyo Chemical, readies for primetime

Plextronics' Andy Hannah sees the day--in the not too distant future--when the company's polymer inks for flexible displays, plastic solar cells and a new world of products are being churned out in Pittsburgh and shipping by the boatload all over the world.

Two years from now, he says.

It's been a long and winding road to primetime commercialization, but Plextronics is almost there. While the company won't disclose revenues, Plextronics' first quarter revenues for 2011 were four times higher than a year ago. In addition, a major partnership with Sanyo Chemical Industries has opened the door for more business in Japan and Korea, which is where Plextronics is conducting 80% of all business outside of the U.S.

Plextronics signed an OLED lighting distribution agreement with Sanyo Chemical Industries this month that will allow Sanyo to distribute the new inks for OLED lighting applications throughout the Japanese market. Scaling up to meet the future demand is the next step.

"We're at that point where our products are ready for scale and an introduction to companies we don't know," says Hannah. "They (Sanyo) will help us with those relationships. Sanyo works with other companies, supplying chemicals. It's a feat to get a high quality distributor like that in Japan, which is an indicator of how high quality your products are."

Plextronics is in the process of hiring several people, including experts who can help the company scale the products and materials for major growth and supply line experts to improve the manufacturing process to ensure the delivery of high-quality products in large volumes.

"It's easy to show people the sizzle and great technical announcements," Hannah explains. "This is the hard work part. We're focused on the delivery of high value products that will make us a sustainable business."

"This agreement will give us the ability to work much more closely with some of the top OLED lighting developers in the world to drive the adoption and commercialization of OLED technology," adds Jim Dietz, vice president of business development.

"We continue to have the same vision," says Hannah. "You'll see our products in tens of millions of different products in the next few years, in the next generation of solar displays and white light applications. First and foremost, we're about achieving profitability so we can grow off our own cash flow. That's the stage we're in, making sure we achieve that milestone."

While the company has room to grow at the massive U-PARC near Harmarville, it may be looking for a manufacturing location in the next two years, he says.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Andy Hannah, Plextronics

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