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  • Sat November 05 2005
  • Posted Nov 5, 2005
By: Christopher Weishaar 11/05/2005 Whether it is climbers on Mount Everest or members of the United States Armed Forces, one local company's products are helping people to power devices of all kinds. Iowa Thin Film Technologies, 2337 230th St., rural Boone, held an open house Friday to showcase its products, particularly those with a military application. "I think one of the weaknesses of Iowa, economically, is that we don't brag about people like (Iowa Thin Film Technologies) more often," said Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley "caught the last plane out of town" after a late night session in Washington D.C. to attend the open house along with other members of several Ames businesses and organizations, and members of Sen. Tom Harkin's office. In a brief speech, Grassley said he "stands in awe" of what Iowa companies are accomplishing. He said he attended the open house to encourage the company to continue its work of creating new products and jobs. Grassley's office has assisted Iowa Thin Film Technologies with obtaining military contracts. "They've been able to get through the red tape of government to get contracts, and that's probably more of a hurdle (than engineering products)," Grassley said. One of the products featured was a large tent with a solar panel array on top. The tent is designed as both a shade shelter and power source, said Brad Scandrett, engineering manager at the company. Scandrett said the tent on display is the first one made, with three more already shipped to the U.S. military for testing. Seven others will be sent by year's end. The tent is large enough for tanks or Humvees to park under and creates enough power for more than 50 laptop computers. Scandrett said the tent also is designed to sit over tents currently in use in the military as medical tents and command posts. "They don't have to sit there and listen to (generators)," he said, adding that the tent cuts back on the need for diesel fuel as well. Fold-up solar panels that can be easily carried by one person are already in use with the military, Scandrett said. The panels make it so missions are limited only by food and water supplies, not batteries. "It will provide enough personal power for any special operations," he said. The company is talking to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Guard about the use of solar products in emergencies, such as hurricanes or earthquakes. "That's one of the applications they're looking at heavily," Scandrett said. The company also makes products for consumer use, especially outdoor recreation. Products from Brunton are currently in stores, with products from Eureka and Marmot arriving next year. "We do a lot of stuff in the hiking and camping world," Scandrett said. "We've put more solar up on (Mount) Everest than all others combined." BIKEIOWA is a distributor for Iowa Thin Film Technologies.. Check out some of their products here www.iowathinfilm.com Christopher Weishaar can be reached at 232-2161, Ext. 353, or cweishaar@amestrib.com

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