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Safi-Tech: Liquid-metal particles make heat-free soldering possible

An Ames-based company is looking to change the way electronics manufacturers approach soldering.

Safi-Tech has developed supercooled liquid metal particles that allow manufacturers to solder on flexible substrates without the use of heat. The liquid particles are about one-fiftieth the size of a human hair and are filled with liquid metal. When popped, the particles release the encapsulated liquid metal which quickly solidifies, creating a solder joint. This unique process allows soldering to take place at room temperature.

“All these little components that are on circuit boards and in sensors are extremely heat sensitive,” said Ian Tevis, Chief Technical Officer of Safi-Tech. “This allows electronics manufacturers to build all these amazing devices on plastic or paper without damaging those substrates.”

In addition to soldering, the supercooled liquid metal particles will impact the 3D printing of metallic components with heat-sensitive materials like plastics, allowing printing to take place at room temperature with no heat requirements, making it an ideal material for 3D printing.

SAFI-Tech was one of three companies recognized during the IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA conference and exhibition in Santa Clara, for achievements in developing and commercializing printed electronics technologies. SAFI-Tech won in the category for Best Technical Development Materials.

Safi-Tech was one of ten companies to participate in the ISU Startup Factory inaugural cohort.

“We are very grateful to the Startup Factory for admitting us and for everything they’ve done for us,” Tevis said. It’s a really great group of mentors and you meet for four hours every week and get all your assumptions about your business model torn apart and find out who you really need to be talking to.”

Safi-Tech hopes to have a product on the market within the next year.

“We’ve been all over the country and Japan talking with companies and there’s tremendous interest in what we’re offering,” Tevis said. “By the end of the year, we want to have a tested product on its way to market.

Safi-Tech: Liquid-metal particles make heat-free soldering possible | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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