RVmagnetics is the R&D oriented deep-tech company focusing on contactless sensing based on proprietary technology using bistable magnetic microwires. The company was established in 2015 by prof. Varga in Kosice, Slovakia and today provides employment to 20+ associates in the lab and 4 more on the administrative side. 

Interview with Vladimir Marhefka, Vice-Chairman of the Board at RVmagnetics. 

Easy Engineering: A brief description of the company and its activities.

Vladimir Marhefka: First years of the company were dedicated to fully develop the technology and started commercializing it from the end of 2018 / beginning of 2019. Geographically, clients of RVmagnetics represent countries with strong presence of manufacturing industries and also higher spend on R&D in their respective economies. So naturally it’s Western Europe, North America and Japan. Recent years we have also noticed rising demand from BRICS countries. As for the industrial focus – we’re sensing technology provider – so by nature we are sector agnostic. However, the main clientele comes from electric motor manufacturing, composite manufacturing, battery manufacturing and diverse industrials (automotive, aviation, oil & gas, consumer electronics, engineering, medtech and beyond).  Company has signed over 180 NDA’s, works for a number of Fortune 500 clients and so far, delivered 2 prototypes. Common to all our clients is that they turn to us with specific measurement/sensing requirements where no other sensors are technically suitable.

E.E: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

V.M: The main area to this day is customization of contactless MicroWire technology to our clients’ needs. glass coated RVmagnetics MicroWires are typically 20-70 micrometers in diameter and enable contactless read-out up to the distance of 10cm. We tend to provide our sensing solution in use cases with a diverse array of challenging conditions and in scenarios where conventional off the shelf sensors don’t exist or provide inaccurate measurements. By challenging conditions, we understand the thermal conditions, chemically aggressive environments, combustive environments, presence of strong magnetic fields or measurements of rotary parts, various space and design limitations. All in all – our current focus on R&D services or, better said, prototyping services is the step, just prior industrialization and mass manufacturing. As of 2022 when we delivered our first prototype, and since then two more – we started working on the industrialization.

Naturally, besides being an R&D provider (in pre-prototype phase), we assumed more of a consulting role (post-prototype phase), and once we reach mass manufacturing, we’ll become supplier of the MicroWire. 

To conclude, the 3 areas of R&D, MicroWire production & sales, and consultation on our know how are the main aspects of RVmagnetics activity. 

E.E: What’s the news about new products/services?

V.M: From a perspective of science or physics, RVmagnetics provides contactless measurements in audio-frequency ranges with its MicroWires. Our closest “relatives” are GMI based MicroWires that use much higher frequencies for measurement and in many applications are not contactless. 

From an end-user point of view there’s a lot to gain whether economically -in mass production the solution tends to be rather inexpensive, or from engineering perspective where one data acquisition system (simple electronics and set of coils) can read the signal from multiple MicroWires in the vicinity of the DAQ device. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products/services?

V.M: RVmagnetics MicroWires are used for temperature sensing, pressure (mechanical strain) sensing and magnetic field sensing. These three physical quantities we measure directly. Other sensing possibilities are indirect ones and include torque measurements, bending, flexion, compression, linear position sensing, 3D vibration sensing. 

While working just with the binary response of the MicroWires – wear and tear status of various surfaces and spare parts can be monitored. 

And last but not least – we have also been actively providing MicroWires as ID tags given their unique response.

E.E: What is the state of the market where you are currently active?

V.M: Depending on the point of view. Sensors market has been registering quite stable growth, driven by the demand in IOT, IIOT and AI markets. Whether we look at smart sensors or micro-sensors segments the market data are somewhat similar. In general, sensors are a traditional industry much less volatile to the state of the global economy. 

On the other hand – as we act as an R&D provider – and the situation is a bit trickier. Many companies limited their R&D expenses in the times of instability – whether caused by wars, covid 19 (global public health risks?)  or “broken” supply chain (most recent in the automotive sector). Luckily for us we had enough projects in the pipeline that kept us busy coming from the companies who understand that especially in the uncertain times, investing in R&D helps them secure the competitive advantage. 2023 was the year with more projects from Asian and US companies.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

V.M: Honestly, I’m not an expert. We’re creating our own market, based on a unique technology that heals very unique sensing aches of our customers. Our R&D team works on exciting projects and to develop business for RVmagnetics is no less exciting. Surely, we need to protect our IP and carefully select the projects that fit our strategy, while keeping the pace with other sensing innovations out there. At the same time there’s a lot to explore on the application side of the MicroWire technology, with every new potential customer we’re learning new and new possibilities how MicroWires can benefit the customer use cases. 

E.E: What are the most innovative products/services marketed?

V.M: In general Artificial intelligence (AI) provides enormous possibilities. As the B2C and B2B markets are hungry to explore the vast possibilities, there’s always a question of monetization. We don’t know the winners and losers of the race yet, nor the regulation that will come sooner or later. On the industrial side – the data centric AI provides room for the companies that produce data – sensor or hardware companies in general. As we provide reliable data from inaccessible spaces in conditions where conventional sensors simply cannot be used, I think we have a relevant offer. Connection between robust and reliable sensors and robust and reliable AI seems to be the very powerful business innovation evolving as we speak. 

E.E: What estimations do you have for the beginning of 2024?

V.M: The conflicts will not disappear overnight, so the only certainty is the uncertainty and instability of the business environment. It would be smart to keep both our feet on the ground. Players like us have to prove being relevant, despite our size. As for us – the end of 2023 brought back several clients who will continue from initial phases of their R&D projects to the prototype. These projects were on hold based on corporate decisions and in a few cases also result of client’s internal restructuring processes. Looking at our project pipeline I can tell we’ll be quite busy. So to answer your question – the beginning of 2024 fills us with what we call “cautious optimism” 🙂