Kodak uses its film manufacturing expertise for a new battery

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ROCHESTER — Eastman Kodak is investing in a battery technology company, and the company’s CEO said the pairing was a natural fit for Kodak.

Kodak has taken a minority stake in California-based Wildcat Discovery Technologies, which is developing what is called a “super cell” for electric vehicles that Wildcat says could greatly improve the performance of the batteries that power such cars.

Kodak Executive Chairman and CEO Jim Continenza said that in addition to Kodak’s investment, the Rochester company also provides coating and engineering services, which he said uses technology that Kodak had already developed in the manufacture of films.

Continenza noted that Kodak repurposed a machine years ago that had been used for film coating to now produce the materials needed to make electric vehicles and energy storage batteries.

“Probably a $70 or $80 million machine, and we were selling it at an extremely low price, (for less than) $2 million,” Continenza said. “And it’s like, ‘No, we have to get this back to work. It’s amazing equipment. And we realised, accidentally, that George Eastman had started a battery company, he just didn’t know that. C It’s the same as making a film and coating on batteries.

Continenza added that Kodak continues to look for ways to capitalize on the manufacturing capabilities of its Advanced Materials & Chemicals business, including manufacturing chemicals needed for healthcare operations, such as reagents needed in laboratory applications. . Kodak also continues to manufacture components used in certain pharmaceutical products.

Kodak’s CEO is excited about the company’s infrastructure in Rochester: the former Kodak Park, now known as Eastman Business Park.

Continenza said having the Eastman Business Park is a key reason Kodak is able to manufacture these types of products. He also highlighted the benefit of having the facilities available there when asked about the company’s commitment to Rochester.

“Part of Kodak’s heritage for me and its history is Rochester,” Continenza said. “And I’m not giving that up, I’m not giving up my building, my corporate building (on State Street). I do not abandon my park. Thanks to this infrastructure, everyone who comes here has an advantage because they don’t have to build it.

Continenza was referring to a number of other businesses that now operate in the business park and use its various utilities and rail and road transport access.

Kodak continues to make commercial printing and packaging products, and Continenza said many other products the company makes are also related to the Advanced Materials & Chemicals business, including coatings used in blocking technologies. light for fabrics and transparent antennas for automotive and other applications.

Continenza said Kodak also plans to use its expertise in coatings and chemicals to work with other companies on battery technology.

“It’s not just EV batteries,” he said. “There’s home storage and there’s different technologies, we’re looking at doing semiconductor stuff for others. We’re also doing hydrogen, hydrocell. So it’s not just limited in there because we know how to make these things.

Kodak has approximately 1,500 employees in Rochester. Continenza said the company is trying to fill 91 vacancies.

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