EBEAM ME UP: Shelton firm promotes cutting-edge technology

“We like to say blue is the new green.”

That’s how Michael Fletcher, technical director for Comet Technologies USA, describes how the company’s electron beam (ebeam) technology can help businesses save energy and eliminate toxic chemical use while creating new products.

Ebeam technology, which gives off a blue glow, can be used when producing products such as plastic food packaging, credit cards, laminated wood, cables, and wires.

Comet, a Swiss-based company, moved its American headquarters to Trap Falls Road Extension in Shelton a year ago.

It recently hosted a Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce event intended to highlight innovative companies in the region.

Bill Purcell, Chamber president, said the Focus on Innovation series shows people what companies actually do inside their facilities. “We all drive around and see these buildings and wonder, ‘What exactly do they do in there?’” he said.

Has two dozen employees here

The Comet facility employs 25 people in its 25,000-square-foot space, including engineers, finance and computer specialists, salespeople, and service technicians.

The office oversees North and South America, where the company does about one-third of its worldwide business.

Jeremy Simon, Comet general manager for the Americas, said the U.S. headquarters is particularly important because more manufacturers are moving operations back to this country because of cost factors and high-skilled labor.

Comet creates systems based on X-ray, RF (radio frequency) and EB technologies. The X-ray product line includes scanners used by security  to check passengers and baggage at airports as well as equipment used for inspection purposes in the automotive, aviation, pipeline, and steel industries.

Worldwide, Comet has 1,000 employees and does about $300 million annually in sales.

Social good

Simon said the company’s cutting-edge approaches do a lot of social good. He noted that Comet’s products help ensure food safety, keep travel safe and protect shipbuilding integrity.

Michael Bielmann, Comet business development manager, said the company is working to devise new uses for ebeam while educating people on all its possible uses — such as seed processing, food sterilization and heat shrinking.

“There will be many other applications,” said Bielmann, who said the technology is underutilized by big industrial firms.

Bielmann said ebeam could even be used for “grafting” so that a single plant might produce both tomatoes and potatoes. “This is not science fiction,” he said.

Fletcher said while some ebeam systems can be large, perhaps filling a utility room, Comet makes smaller ebeam devices — or “compact EBs” — that are more affordable, are adaptable, and can be integrated better with other systems.

'Next generation of innovation'

Purcell said innovation by Comet and other companies is what has helped the Valley to prosper, from the river-powered factories of yesteryear to today’s modern manufacturing and research-and-development operations.

“What you represent is the next generation of innovation,” he said.

The decision to move to Shelton

The company moved to Shelton following a visit to its then Stamford headquarters by Mayor Mark Lauretti, according to Simon.

“We’ve been really happy here,” said Simon, praising the city’s business environment and good corporate neighbors.

Lauretti said Comet was now “in the right place for business,” and his goal is to keep the tax rate steady to benefit companies as well as residents. He also plugged the “reverse commute” to Shelton for Comet employees living in lower Fairfield County.

“We look forward to a lot of years of success and growth,” Lauretti told company officials.