Electron beam sterilizes products
Iotron Industries officials are beaming in Columbia City.
The Canadian company has invested $15.3 million to build and equip an electron-beam processing facility in Park 30 Business Center. On Thursday, the company offered public tours of the operation, which is scheduled to be running at full power by the end of the month.
The 54,000-square-foot building houses a 2.5-ton electron-beam linear accelerator that is so massive it had to be lowered into place by a heavy-duty crane.
The specialized equipment, which runs on electricity, can sterilize pre-packaged products in mere seconds without removing them from their shipping carton. A conveyor belt passes Iotron’s customers’ products beneath the pulsing beam, killing germs by destroying organisms at the cellular level, said Jeff Blakely, general manager.
The electron beam can sterilize medical implants and instruments – a service in heavy demand in Warsaw, dubbed the Orthopedics Capital of the World. A tractor-trailer load of devices can be processed in one eight-hour shift, he said.
But Iotron hasn’t limited its market. Officials have diversified their customer base to protect the company from downturns in individual industries.
The beam can be used to sterilize animal feed, for example, and the Food and Drug Administration has approved it for killing E. coli and other contaminants found in human food. The automotive and defense industries also use the service.
“We have a lot of customers that are lined up,” Blakely said. “This location is ideal. We’re well-positioned between Fort Wayne and Warsaw.”
The company expects to hire about 12 during its first year, Blakely said. He forecast the workforce will grow to 35 to 50 in a couple of years.