WINCHESTER, N.H. -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has, after more than a year, allowed a patent application covering a wave thread technology that the founder of Van Cor Threads LLC believes will change the world of thread fasteners.
Dale Van Cor has spent the past eight years working full time on what he calls the wave thread -- a fastener for nuts and bolts or anything else screwed together -- which he says is more than 20 percent stronger than whatever else is on the market today. He received official notification about a month ago that his patent has been allowed and now he must wait for the actual license to arrive, after which he plans to recruit investors and make steel parts at Innovative Machine at 40 Snow Road.
A year ago, when he was waiting for approval of his patent, Van Cor explained to the Reformer that the wave thread uses a complex geometry to form a stack of circles whose center is moving and follows a helical path. He said the smoother the surface, the tighter the grip.
"When I get the steel threads I'm going to have them destructively tested at a commercial certification lab in Michigan," he said Thursday.
Van Cor now has two other patent applications pending on his conic and concentric thread technologies. The conic threaded fastener has many of the characteristics of the wave thread, but may be more useful as a replacement for pipe threads that do not require any sealant.
He explained that industrial fasteners alone are a $12 billion-a-year market and the wave thread offers advantages over existing fasteners in more than 10 percent of all industrial fastening applications. Van Cor said he hopes to get in on just under 1 percent of this market. He said reducing the manufacturing cost enough to justify replacing existing fasteners is the key to successful commercialization of the wave thread technology. Fortunately for him, he has developed a method for automating the manufacture of the wave thread at a fraction of the current cost by using existing technologies.
Van Cor, a 1978 graduate of Keene State College, told the Reformer he will make money off royalties once the patent is issued. He said people will buy licenses to the patent and to the associated software. He expects this to begin later this year or in early 2015.
"These threads ... are stronger because they distribute stress evenly," Van Cor said. "Some people are going to want stronger threads."
He said one of the most difficult parts was dealing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which required him to split up his work into separate species.
"Everything I had in there that involved a male and female connection, they accepted. But they wouldn't patent me on just the thread," he said.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.