Olikrom is a Bordeaux startup that manufactures coatings containing intelligent pigments which react to external stimuli. The pigments make temperature- or pressure-related alterations visible to the naked eye, and are designed to improve industrial safety. Offering significant advantages to the aeronautical sector, the technology has prompted a partnership with Airbus. DirectIndustry e-magazine met with CEO Jean-François Létard at the Paris Air Show.
DirectIndustry e-magazine: What’s an intelligent pigment?
Jean-François Létard: They are materials which change conformation and reorganize themselves, changing color in response to termperature, light or pressure. Our job is to find the right formula such that the modification occurs in a way that satisfies an industrial safety need.
Alterations cause these pigments to shift from one state to another. We determine the temperature, the pressure or the light characteristics that will provoke the state shift.
DI e-magazine: But sophisticated electronic systems already exist to detect anomalies. Why this development?
Jean-François Létard: Yes, but they don’t offer the possibility of observing the anomaly immediately. Our system saves time and locates the anomaly right away.
DI e-magazine: Can you describe your partnership with Airbus?
Jean-François Létard: Airbus approached us with two requirements. The first was to detect abnormally high temperatures around the engines during long flights. The second was to detect impacts caused by falling objects or collisions with birds, or dents on structural elements caused by baggage-loading equipment. Our technology is already in use on an A380.
DI e-magazine: Does that mean your coatings are custom made in response to client needs?
Jean-François Létard: The materials are formulated to react to a particular alteration by changing color. For example, we can program them to react to a temperature of 120° or one of 60°. We can program the reaction to be reversible or not. Thus, we can program them to change when the chosen energy level is exceded just once. This is the type of material we use in the aeronautical sector.
We can combine two colors with two temperature thresholds in a single coating. We create the pigment as a function of the specifications submitted to us and integrate it into the paint or the ink.
DI e-magazine: Could you be more specific about the contents?
Jean-François Létard: No, I can’t! Keep in mind that some of our materials are for both civilian and military use.