­­An insight into last year’s startup voucher winner: Laminance

In this blogpost, we will let you in on the story about last year’s winner of the Start-up Voucher and how they see their future now that the coaching coming from the voucher has come to a close. We interviewed Thore Roepman, the Chief Technology Officer of Laminance, and asked him what they do and what their plans are for the coming years. Thore studied Aerospace Engineering at the TU Delft and graduated on the optimization of blended laminates to significantly improve the structural performance of unstable structures.

How did you come up with the idea for Laminance and what is it that you do?

When I did my thesis on this topic last year, I met a fellow student who did his thesis on the same topic as me and when we talked it over, we were convinced that what we were studying would be able to really change the aviation industry and have a huge impact. We wanted to try and push it beyond academic research to truly start making a change. This is where our startup idea was born.
Our technology is based on redesigning the way carbon fiber is used within a laminate. Currently, a lot of laminates use conventional stacking techniques where you stick layers together. We want to change that by putting the fibers in specific locations in different directions. This way, we can redistribute the loads around areas that are more prone to failure meaning we can increase the strength of the entire laminate. With this technique, we expect to increase buckling stiffness by at least 80%, which is significant for all the different kinds of structures within aerospace that are prone to buckling. We can also distribute loads around cutouts or do multi patch designs to enhance stiffness or strength.
We are looking at a different way to design these structures, which makes us ambitious and renewing.

Do you imagine it will improve the sustainability of the aerospace industry?

Redesigning the use of carbon fiber in laminates will have a sustainable impact in the industry. If a part becomes stronger, it also needs less material to reach required strengths. This has to do with the fact that you can do more with the same amount of material, so one can use less to achieve the same load.
Because of the exchange between load and weight, the weight of the aircraft can be decreased, which will snowball into needing less fuel for the same distance.

What made you start Laminance rather than continuing your academic research or work at an established firm in the industry?

What is happening currently with this technology is that there are a lot of companies more into the research part of other stiffness techniques. This has to do with the fact that there are still a lot of problems around the technology that don’t allow the technique to be used within the coming five years, making it less interesting for companies to implement it.
We do believe that our technology should be adopted by the industry, as there is a gap that needs and can be filled with it.

After winning the startup voucher, you were offered a membership to the Aerospace Innovation Hub. Why did you decide to join and also move your office to our facilities?

We decided to join the Aerospace Innovation Hub because there are a lot of other high tech and deep tech innovators working here. It is interesting to be able to discuss with other entrepreneurs what they have done and how they have done it. That is really one of the most valuable things the Aerospace Innovation Hub has to offer. The community is always there to help you out and it is quite easy to get in touch with each other, as at some point everyone has to get a cup of coffee.

Where do you think Laminance will be in 20 years?

Hopefully our technology will have matured enough that we have established ourselves in the aviation industry. Our aim is to go broader and get into other industries as well: all industries where carbon fiber is being used. In 20 years from now, we want our technology to have reached more sustainable use of composite laminates across multiple industries.

Closing – From the AIH Team

At the Aerospace Innovation Hub, we are proud to be supporting young aerospace entrepreneurs such as Thore and his team at Laminance. We strongly believe that innovation is nurtured and accelerated in an environment in which entrepreneurship is properly coached and guided. The Start-up Voucher program at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft offers the springboard to kick entrepreneurial journeys in aerospace. If you are interested in reading more about the program, visit TU Delft’s website: link.

If this article has sparked your interest in Laminance’s pursuit of ever lighter, stiffer and stronger composites, check out their website and get in touch with Thore and his team! Laminance.com