A Birmingham company specialising in ultra-violet light equipment is set for a bright future after it decided to design and produce its own products.
UV Light Technology, which employs ten people, supplies UV light equipment to customers including police forces who use them for forensic and security work.
Established by Paul Jackson ten years ago, the firm, which is based in Quinton, was originally involved in sourcing and supplying the lights.
It was transformed two years ago when Mr Jackson met Martin McKeever, manufacturing adviser at Business Link Birmingham & Solihull.
Mr Jackson said: "We were originally a distributor, but there was not the margins and we could not get the markets or the prices we wanted for the lamps. We couldn't set up our own distributors for example. But I always thought manufacturing in Birmingham could be done.
"We are now competing with the company we originally distributed for."
Mr Jackson used his own knowledge as well as employing a designer to produce the first batch of UV lights which are used in all sorts of industrial processes.
West Midlands Police, the Metropolitan Police and the Forensic Science Service use its lamps to detect bodily fluids at crime scenes, while they are also used for industrial drying.
The firm now produces lamps which range in price from #10 to #10,000s.
Mr McKeever said: "Paul had built an enviable business supplying specialist UV equipment and consumables to an extraordinarily diverse range of sectors.
"He felt that in order to increase sales and profitability he needed to focus on developing technologically innovative products, which he would then manufacture at his premises on the Hagley Road."
The company was helped transform its operations after receiving support from West Midlands Manufacturing Challenge.
Mr McKeever said: "Being a small business meant that financing a dedicated R&D engineer was impossible, so WMMC3 was able to provide a #7,225 grant towards the project through the European Regional Development Fund, to enable one of Paul's team to devote his time to new product innovation."
Stephen Byrne, who was originally employed on the sales side of the business, took on the role.
UV Light Technology recently launched a paint curing system targeted at the car re-finishing market in collaboration with the international paint company Akzo Nobel, Sikkens.
Mr Jackson said: "Taking into account the exact chemistry of the paint, we have designed completely new equipment and process methods which enable acceleration of the curing process by up to 40 per cent, reduce energy consumption and ensure absolute safety for the operator."
UV Light Technology's Quick Cure UV system includes a hand-held 400w, air-cooled UV lamp housed in a pressurised cabinet within the spray booth to protect it from a potentially explosive environment.
As soon as paint spraying ceases, a start button disables the compressed air supply to the spray booth and switches on the UV lamp to warm up within the cabinet.
After a pre-set time the door lock is released, the operator puts on a protective face shield, which is also kept in the cabinet, and the UV lamp is ready for use.
The company has gone from a prototype to production in 12 months, and has already sold 20 of its systems.
Mr Jackson said: "Feedback from body shops already using the system in the UK has been extremely complimentary, with ease and speed of use immediately apparent to the operators. This is just one of several new markets opening up for the company and we fully expect increased sales to be in excess of #1 million as a result."
Mr McKeever said: "Paul has a passion for UK manufacturing and it's heartening to see a company entering the sector rather than looking for ways out of it.
"As a direct result of this project, the company is set to create three or four new manufacturing jobs – and that's got to be good news."