Awards

Precision Acoustics wins innovation award

16th November 2022
Sheryl Miles

Precision Acoustics has been nationally recognised for its contribution to the UK’s manufacturing industry after scooping the Innovation category award at the prestigious Manufacturer’s Organisation’s Make UK regional dinner.

As the voice of Britain’s manufacturing and engineering industry Make UK recognises and awards exceptional manufacturers each year for their work, dedication and resilience in the sector.

The innovation prize celebrates new products, processes, markets and business models which have driven greater productivity, efficiency and business growth within the last year.

Precision Acoustics was handed the 2022 Innovation Award for its ‘TBW650’ ultrasound absorbing material, a new-to-the-market product which has multiple benefits for use in underwater acoustic transducers at the Bristol Harbour Hotel.

The engineering company explained that as a global specialist in underwater acoustic and ultrasonic technologies, one of the perennial problems faced by designers and manufacturers of sonar systems is ensuring that sound energy only radiates where it is supposed to go.

The innovative two-phase material acoustic composite which makes up the product has highly effective acoustic de-coupling and isolation within a thin backing.

The novel product also had additional specific and potentially challenging features which includes an ability to withstand elevated hydrostatic pressures, at least equivalent to 6,000 metres depth of sea water, while operating over a wide range of commonly used sonar frequencies and oceanic temperatures.

Not only that, the product has no toxic constituents, meaning the material is consistent with all the best practices for protecting staff involved with its handling during production and protecting the environment when in use.

The technology was created by a skilled project team incorporating materials specialists, research physicists, and measurement scientists from with Precision Acoustics staff. This was augmented with the input of an experienced polymer chemist from a long-standing supplier.

Commercially, the desire was to bring a product to market within a year, which met or exceeded the performance of market competitors, at a price-point that was acceptable to customers. After some technical difficulties delayed the product launch, it was launched 14 months after project commencement.

Since its launch, four of the world's leading sonar companies have integrated the new transducer backing material into their product line. Two of these have requested further customisation to optimise the range of devices into which this material can be incorporated.

Managing Director Gary Livingstone said of its success: “The incorporation of the transducer backing material into the product lines of global sonar companies has opened a new and recurring revenue stream for Precision Acoustics.

“In addition to current customers of this material, discussions are ongoing with other potential customers. They are anticipated to crystallise into solid sales within the next 12 to 18 months.

“Determining the price point for a novel product, especially in a niche market where there is limited competition for comparison, can be challenging. Initially there was some push-back from customers due to the new material retailing above the level of the only other market alternative.

“However, it soon became apparent to customers that the non-toxic nature of the product, combined with the enhanced operating depth and impressive acoustic performance, justified the price premium.

“Precision Acoustics has always provided specialist solutions to complex ultrasonic and underwater acoustic problems and thus operates in a high-value, lower-volume market. Our new transducer backing material is entirely consistent with those principles and is yielding a commercial return on the investment in product development already.”

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