NCET explores business and technology
By Dave Archer
When most of us think about technology, we think about devices created with tiny, super-fast semiconductors and manufactured by outfits such as Apple and Lenovo.
We don’t often think of products 5 feet in diameter or manufacturing techniques that require the application of 2,000 tons of force.
And we might not think about Dynamic Isolation Systems as a technology company at all.
But the company headquartered at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks has been combining smart thinking, skillful uses of precision manufacturing systems and decades of experience into products that make buildings in earthquake-prone regions around the world safer.
Essentially, the company’s products are giant bearings. Made from layers of rubber, lead, steel, and Teflon, the bearings are typically installed atop the foundation of a structure. When an earthquake hits, the Dynamic Isolation Systems products dissipate the energy of the earthquake and dramatically reduce the potential for damage.
The company’s technology is used to protect the Golden Gate Bridge, the Stanford Linear Accelerator at Palo Alto, the Utah State Capitol and hundreds of other projects, large and small, around the world.
It’s been proven to work. Structures from California to South America to Japan that have been fitted with the technology developed in Northern Nevada have withstood massive earthquakes.
The creation of this technology requires specialized technology of its own. Computer Numeric Controlled Machining centers at the company’s facility machine steel plates as much as 80 inches wide to exacting tolerances. Custom-built presses deliver up to 4,400 tons of pressure for as much as 48 hours to mold rubber, lead, steel and Teflon into the bearings that protect bridges and buildings.
The company works with engineers at the Earthquake Engineering Lab at UNR as well other researchers around the world to continuously improve its products.
Dynamic Isolation Systems relies on technological and engineering expertise as well when it installs or retrofits its systems. In retrofitting projects, the foundations of large buildings such as the San Francisco City Hall are supported so isolation units can be slipped in.
Like any good technology company, Dynamic Isolation Systems constantly looks for new markets. Lately, it’s begun working with wharf facilities where it is important to take impact away from ships and allow facilities to remain operational after an earthquake. The company also has developed a floor isolation system that helps protect data centers and supercomputers.
And the company is offering its manufacturing and machining skills to other companies in the region that need highly precise machine-shop services.
It seems that every startup technology company these days promises to make the world a better place. Dynamic Isolation Systems delivers on the promise.
Learn more about the technology of seismic isolation and its uses in protecting structures during NCET’s Tech Wednesday event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wed, February 8, at Dynamic Isolation Systems, 885 Denmark Drive in the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center. More information and registration at NCET.org.
Dave Archer is President/CEO of NCET, which produces educational and networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. This column first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.