The family-run Kilrea, Co Londonderry business has already added half of the new posts, with the rest to follow next year.
It received £500,000 from Invest NI towards the latest expansion. And earlier this year, the firm invested more than £3m into expanding its business, along with two new cutting lasers.
That investment includes a much larger manufacturing site - spanning 60,000 sq ft.
Opening the company’s new site managing director Mark Hutchinson said the investment was “another building block” in the firm’s growth.
“This new capital investment of over £3.2m is another building block in the company’s growth, and with over 40 years experience working with clients who demand quality and precision engineered components, it was imperative that we undertook this expansion.
“This will help to underpin our competitive position in this sector and achieve the aim of substantially increasing sales to global customers over the next three years.”
Life has a distinct advantage over the processes used to make most of today’s products – it works at room temperature, involves very little in the way of toxic chemicals and can create intricate structures with no external help.
“Nature does a fantastic job of making materials,” says Professor Angela Belcher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I want to use that as a manufacturing paradigm; not to make trees, because they are already doing a tremendous job, but batteries and solar cells. Future vehicles could have biological batteries.”
While these batteries will not be fully biological, they will use the self-organising properties of lifeforms to arrange inorganic materials into more complex shapes and structures than is possible using conventional top-down fabrication.
Prof Belcher’s inspiration came from abalone shells. The calcite and aragonite structures in the shell are thousands of times stronger than the minerals created more commonly by precipitation, with the inorganic crystalline materials locked into place by proteins exuded by the creature inside.
Today, we lack the skills to create structures from proteins directly. However, one way to harness the constructive power of proteins is to use organisms that can build the necessary ‘scaffolding’. Yeast and bacteria have been adapted using genetic engineering to make pharmaceuticals, such as the anti-malarial artemisinin, biofuels on a small scale and even spider silk. Viruses offer another path; the hard protein shells they use to protect the infectious DNA inside them can also be used as scaffolding.
A high-speed printer that can produce circuit boards in minutes has won the Dyson engineering award.
The laptop-sized Voltera V-One uses different inks to turn circuit board designs into working prototypes.
It won the prize because of its great potential for speeding up the hardware design process.
The global competition aims to reward engineering students who create devices that solve real world problems.