SwissNeutronics AG was established in 1999 as a spin-off from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI). The five founders believed that research with neutrons had a global future and set up the neutron conductor division as an independent enterprise. Their enthusiasm was rewarded: SwissNeutronics is now the global leader in the construction of neutron conductors.
Neutrons are characterised by expanding in all directions. Conductor systems are designed to prevent this. "Our contribution was a neutron conductor made of glass with a special coating which ensures that the neutrons stay on course," stresses Professor Dr. Albert Furrer, one of the company's founders.
Global customer base
"Our customers," explains Furrer, "are numerous research centres around the world which work with neutrons. So we supply renowned research centres around the world. Our research provides a link between science and trade. We paid for the initial stage, which was launched by PSI, in the form of licenses over a period of ten years. So PSI generated income as a result of this spin-off. Neutron conductors are a real growth area: our order books are full, delivery periods are one year and more. However, our greatest added value is our expertise in the coating of surfaces," he emphasises.
For this reason, SwissNeutronics employs mainly personnel from the field of design engineering and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control). "This is only the basis," reveals co-founder and production director Max Koch, "what they learn here is technical new territory."
Smooth as glass and sought-after
"SwissNeutronics was established twelve years ago when increasing numbers of research centres around the world became interested in our neutron conductor. After intensive research, we succeeded in significantly increasing the neutron concentration in the conductor," explains Furrer.
"We achieve this with the aid of special materials (glass / aluminum) and with extremely smooth surfaces. These ultra-smooth, polished metal surfaces had previously been unknown - they represent the development and achievement of our co-founder Max Koch," stresses Albert Furrer.
Self-financed and healthy
Since it was founded on 1 April, 1999, SwissNeutronics has expanded greatly. After initially occupying rented accommodation on the premises of designer furniture manufacturer de Sede, the company moved into its new location in Klingnau in 2004. Final development of the building was completed in spring 2011.
"Originally, we were five shareholders with visions. Today, SwissNeutronics employs 19 people in 14 full-time positions. We have been self-financed ever since the company was founded. We purchase from the region where possible. We do so intentionally as a declaration of belief in Klingnau as a location and to promote local trade and industry," explains Furrer.