Spectrum Technologies Ltd is marking the 30th anniversary of the company’s management buyout (MBO) from British Aerospace PLC (now BAE Systems) on 9 March. Today the international aerospace industry relies totally on the laser marking technology pioneered by Spectrum for processing and identifying aircraft electrical wiring; with around 12,000 commercial aircraft from the global airline fleet in the air at any time, that’s over 1 million miles of laser marked wire circling the planet.

Spectrum Technologies Ltd (Spectrum) was established in October 1989 as a technology spin out from British Aerospace (BAE) to develop and commercialise industrial laser technology. The company was born out of a research group at BAE’s corporate research centre in Bristol, UK, led by Dr Peter Dickinson, the company’s current Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, that in 1987 first developed the unique, non-contact process of marking and identifying non-stick PTFE (Teflon® ) aircraft wires and cables using ultraviolet (UV) laser technology.

The company was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE and set up in Bridgend, South Wales, in early 1990 with four employees. The downturn in the aerospace sector that occurred shortly afterwards, due to the impact of the first Gulf War, delayed the development of the company, and in the meantime BAE underwent a major reorganisation of its businesses. As a result, Spectrum’s management undertook a buy out of 80% of the shares from BAE, with BAE retaining a 20% holding, which it maintained until recently. The buyout was concluded on 9 March 1994.

The company’s first target was the development of UV laser wire marking as a potential replacement to the then aerospace industry standard of hot stamp ink marking, which was the cause of serious safety concerns in the industry, due to the damage it was causing to the modern generation of lightweight aerospace wires and cables. Since then, Spectrum has developed its disruptive laser technology and completely supplanted hot stamp marking, while becoming the global market leading supplier of wire processing equipment to the international aerospace industry. The Company typically exports over 95% of its products, the majority of which go to North America (60%) with Europe and Asia accounting for around 20% each.

With an unbeaten record of delivering over 1000 laser wire marking systems to aerospace customers in around 60 countries on 6 continents, Spectrum has confirmed its position as the number one supplier of high-tech wire marking and processing equipment to the aerospace industry. As a result, the company has been the winner of multiple international trade and export awards, including three Queen’s Awards.

Following the downturn caused by Covid, the company’s business has bounced back sharply as airlines have ordered large quantities of modern, fuel efficient jetliners to sustain the resurgence in air travel. At the same time the business has been strengthening its engineering team and increasing its new product development activities. The company is now forecasting a solid end to the current year and targeting further growth in the coming years. As a result, it has identified the need for further significant investments, and is actively investigating a move to new larger, sustainable premises, to double the floor space of its UK headquarters to 36,000 sq. feet, along with a further expansion of its workforce.

Dr Peter Dickinson said, “Thirty years ago there were no guarantees of success, so it is good to reflect on the achievements of the team at Spectrum Technologies since the buyout. Today the company remains on a sound financial footing, having survived the twin disasters of 9/11 and the pandemic. We are acknowledged as the market leader and supplier of specialised laser wire processing equipment to the international aerospace industry. We have also diversified over time and have an exciting programme of new product developments in hand. Having made a robust recovery from the downturn of the pandemic, our staff numbers are back up to where they were at the start of 2020, and we are continuing to recruit and anticipate significant further growth in the next few years.”

For further information contact: Mike Cesa-Bianchi, Marketing Manager, email: mcesa-bianchi@spectrumtech.com