Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Brilliant Photonics’ UV-C commercial lighting system to disinfect COVID-19 virus

Coronavirus structural morphology

Brilliant Photonics is well known for developing high-tech industrial lighting systems for the agricultural and horticultural industries. Now the Kitchener, Ont. company is adding another market to its list – industrial disinfection technology to help kill viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

They are utilizing the high intensity of ultra-violet (UV)-C radiation – long used as a virus and bacteria disinfection method for air, surfaces and water. Invisible to the human eye, UV light is divided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, with UV-C being the shortest wavelength and most intense part of the ultraviolet light spectrum.

Using the more powerful deep UV-C LED irradiation, recent research points to the effectiveness in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, current UV-C LED systems are not powerful enough for commercial applications and are generally used inside small containers to achieve the dose required for effective disinfection, says Brilliant Photonics‘ CEO Kevin LeBlanc.

His company is looking to harness the more recent technology of UV-C LED lighting that packs a much higher power density to disinfect larger surface areas at higher rates and with more effectiveness. But the company faces a challenge they can’t solve alone.

“We are developing a light fixture capable of producing three radiometric watts of radiant power at 265nm spectrum that could rapidly disinfect viruses on surfaces at more than three metres distance,” says LeBlanc, adding the goal is to retrofit their current horticultural lighting system to support UV-C and partner with commercial cleaning services to disinfect places such as hospitals, long-term care homes, schools, factories and other commercial environments.

However, UV-C LEDs get much hotter than conventional LEDs, and as a result, their output power is limited. To achieve more power levels required for commercial-scale application for UV-C disinfecting, high-performance cooling systems are required.

While the company has designed a prototype, complete with liquid cooling technology, the challenge with their current product is that it’s costly and difficult to manufacture at high volumes since every part has to be CNC machined. They sought expert help from Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) at Niagara College to help reduce manufacturing costs and complexity.

“Students get real industry experience, the College receives equipment and industry engagement and we get the professional engineers and machines required for innovation.”
~ Kevin LeBlanc, CEO, Brilliant Photonics 

“By reducing thermal resistance, LEDs can be placed closer together thus producing greater photon density,” explains LeBlanc. “In order to match the thermal performance required for the highest power density, we must produce our system with costly copper components.” 

Through an earlier project, with funding through the National Research Council of Canada – Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), the WAMIC team was able to distill the company’s concepts into a more readily-manufactured prototype design involving a proposed combination of high-temperature 3D plastic printing, machining of an aluminum housing, and machining of a copper heatsink.

“I took the design review process seriously and we quickly iterated through several impactful design revisions making the product with less material, much easier to manufacture and with performance improvements that will permit us to increase our full spectrum lighting power from 600W to 900W on a five-inch light module,” says LeBlanc.  

In its current project with WAMIC – under a grant from the NC-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), backed by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) – Brilliant Photonics is working with researchers to further improve the prototype design manufacturing.

The research team is working with the company to develop a high-temperature 3D-printed reflector cone, machined finned copper heat sink and aluminum electrical housing and water housing.

“The project is particularly challenging as the heat sink fins are very slender and may vibrate (chatter) when machining,” explains WAMIC research lead Allan Spence, PhD. “A low RPM slot mill with a horizontal 4th axis will be used. Adding pipe threads is also delicate, and a thread mill will be used to produce that feature. Sealing to avoid water leakage will require very flat mating surfaces.”

Brilliant Photonics plans to take a finalized prototype for product testing to the Canadian Centre for Product Validation. The goal is for the technology to support a range of products, including a handheld lamp, mobile handcart, wall/ceiling mountable, chambers, air filters and water systems.

LeBlanc describes the partnership with Niagara College as a win for everyone: “Students gets real industry experience, the College receives equipment and industry engagement and we get the professional engineers and machines required for innovation. 

“The research team had a lot more experience than I expected, and as a result, I was able to fully engage in rapid product design cycles and received professional advice from an industry expert who then trained students on how to use the machines and produce the parts.” 

For more information about the applied research and technical services offered at Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, visit the website. 


UPCOMING EVENT: Lead Time: Metrology Trends webinar on Feb 25

Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is hosting “Lead Time” a webinar series focusing on Metrology Trends in an Industry 4.0 World on Thursday, February 25 at 11 AM. Register for this event here.

These days, we are working harder in the midst of continued uncertain times.
Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is introducing a new educational webinar series – LEAD TIME to provide information on how you can introduce Industry 4.0 technologies to help your company work smarter, not harder.

Rob Johnston of CAD MicroSolutions will deliver the first webinar in this series where you will learn about the latest trends in measurement system technology.

Topics to be covered during this session include:

  • • Integration and use of PMI in Metrology
  • • Adoption of sensors on Robots
  • • Trends to move inspection close to the shop floor
  • • Re-using Metrology Infrastructure on Scanning Solutions
  • • Advanced Reverse Engineering to create Digital Twins and
  • • Live Q&A with metrology & 3D scanning expert Rob Johnston

Rob Johnston, Director of 3D Scanning & Metrology, CAD MicroSolutions

Who Should Attend?:
Anyone interested in learning more about Metrology Industry 4.0 technologies that will help your business innovate and improve productivity.


Join us on February 25th at 11 AM!


NOW HIRING: Computer Programmer Research Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Computer Programmer Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre Team

The successful candidate will work on a collaborative team to accomplish various programming tasks, including:  programming, testing and troubleshooting of interface software for development of web, cloud, and IoT technology services. 

Click HERE for the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Friday, January 29th, 2021 at 4pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter and class schedule to [email protected] and reference job posting ‘COMPUTER PROGRAMMER ‐ WAMIC‘.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

The Globe and Mail: Gaining a competitive advantage through applied research

In its sponsored feature “Excellence in Research and Innovation,” The Globe and Mail today included a recent project between Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) and Handling Specialty, a Grimsby-based company that manufactures custom-engineered material handling products for clients worldwide.

The partnership involved WAMIC producing 3D-printed replicas of two large assembly equipment pieces for Handling Specialty for use in showcasing its company’s capabilities at tradeshows — saving in both transportation costs and its carbon footprint.

“An industry partner comes to us, and we establish objectives and deliverables,” says Gordon Maretzki, centre manager at WAMIC. “We have our research leads or our in-house faculty contributing to the project combined with the industry partners, who bring their expertise and resources. The third aspect is that every project includes students from our mechanical, electrical, electronic, engineering and even our computer technology programs.”

Read the Globe and Mail article 






Learn more about the Research & Innovation project here


Position Available: Senior Application Specialist with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Senior Application Specialist, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Reporting to the Centre Manager, the Senior Application Specialist is responsible for providing front-line external technical sales support, as well as internal technical support, for all 3D printing, 3D scanning, 3D design activities, and other technical services and/or applied research activities, as assigned.

Working in collaboration with the Centre Manager, the successful candidate will engage industry in the full spectrum of business development activities for technical services and assist in identifying potential industry partners for applied research projects.

The Senior Application Specialist, Advanced Manufacturing, is directly responsible for conducting product demonstrations and product implementations (processes) involving 3D printing, 3D scanning equipment, as well as other technologies at WAMIC to industry partners, providing rapid response and technical services for a wide variety of customers in many disciplines and industries. The role also includes participating in marketing events and presentations, as well as other technical sales and marketing-related efforts. The candidate must have an acute understanding of current capabilities of our industry partners, the products/services they offer, and the value-added capabilities that WAMIC can complement, as part of their manufacturing process.

The Senior Application Specialist will be directly involved in the execution of technical services and contribute in a hands-on fashion to applied research projects.

Click HERE for the full job posting and to apply. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 13th.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

NC research lab tech talks engineering, art and adrenaline

Creativity is often thought of as the cornerstone of engineering.

For artist and mechanical engineering technologist Brock Husak, he is proving engineers are indeed fundamentally creators – both requiring imagination and smarts to develop novel solutions to problems. 

During the course of many research projects, this research laboratory technologist at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) generates conceptual freehand designs before moving onto a digital CAD drawing format.

“It can be a blessing, but I also have to catch myself trying to get creative with something that does not need to be overly complicated,” he says with a laugh.

In addition to his busy full-time position at Niagara College, Husak burns the midnight oil designing and painting helmets for athletes, from professional motocross racers to Olympic cyclists, using his drawing and airbrush talents.

“This is a way for me to satisfy my burning desire to be creative and make art while also generating some extra money from it.”

Graduating from NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program in April 2019, Husak has been with the Research & Innovation division since January 2017, first during his co-op as a research assistant and then as a research associate until this past September, when he assumed his new interim role of research laboratory technologist.

Husak has amassed a wealth of experience in all areas at the research labs at WAMIC, including reverse engineering in conjunction with 3D CAD modelling/printing and rapid prototyping, metrology and machine design, to name just a few.

All this has laid a solid foundation for his current position, where he is responsible for coordinating the technical services and applied research activities and managing the various advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment in the research labs. He also provides mentorship training to the co-op students and graduate research associates.

Husak says he most appreciates the diversity of projects and tasks he’s afforded. “Every day really is a new day here. You’re always doing something new, which is so important to me.”

“When I’m grooving, and in the zone, it’s a feeling like no other – a sense of satisfaction and happiness all at once.”

Likewise, on his list of advantages, he would tell prospective co-op students interested in working at WAMIC, is having the opportunity to learn new skills.

“Sometimes, you’ll be tasked with something you’ve had no experience with, and you’ll slowly understand and work through the challenges,” he explains. “This makes for a smarter you and allows you to build your resume for future endeavours.”

He recalls a successful project he worked on during his senior co-op term for medical technology industry partner Studio 1 Labs. The company invented an intelligent medical bed sheet with fabric sensing and non-invasive technology that wirelessly monitors vital signs for hospital patients and can predict the onset of health decline and emergencies.

R&I’s digital media team helped with the interface software, and Husak developed an electrical component enclosure designed for injection molding – a creative undertaking.

“The project literally went perfect,” he recalls. “I learned some valuable lessons along the way. The client was very happy; our team at WAMIC was happy. So it was a huge success.”

More recently, the Niagara Falls native also played a large role in producing many thousands of face shields at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when PPE was scarce. During the closure of both NC campuses, Husak was one of only a few graduate students in the WAMIC lab assembling the PPE for local health-care workers.

A total of 17,300 face shields were donated to the local Niagara Health System and another 20,000 units going to other essential workers and community members throughout the province.

“It felt rewarding knowing I was helping the community and the brave front-line workers.”

During these challenging times Husak has used his love of art to provide his own sense of inspiration.

“When I’m grooving, and in the zone, it’s a feeling like no other – a sense of satisfaction and happiness all at once.”

Husak draws, paints and does the occasional mural, but most of his time is dedicated to helmet work for his business, Twisted Design. He has had his own art exhibition and even won ‘creator of the year’ at the 2018 Niagara Social Awards, which recognizes the Niagara region’s writers, entrepreneurs and creators.

While he “lives for creativity,” Husak says his need for adrenaline is just as important.

He feeds this passion with motocross, where he races throughout Canada and the United States. It’s a sport he took up as a youngster and has acquired the trophies and more than a few broken bones along the way.

He also satisfies his craving for adrenaline – and exercise – through rock climbing, a discipline that he devotes time to, as many as three times a week.