Kodak is jumping into battery manufacturing, no, not camera batteries, electric vehicle batteries. The brand has announced a minority stake in the battery startup, Wildcat Discovery Technologies. Apparently, the legendary company’s film-coating process shares similarities with “supercell” EV battery manufacturing; who would’ve guessed? And while Kodak does plan to convert some machinery from film production to batteries, this by no means indicates plans to scrap or scale back film production. Let’s dive in.

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What is Wildcat Discovery Technologies?

Based in San Diego, California, Wildcat is a laboratory that focuses on rapid battery development for a variety of sectors, working with clients that include the automotive, electronic, and military domains.

Employing “proprietary high-throughput methods,” Wildcat is able to quickly manufacture EV batteries. The company is currently developing a supercell iteration that it claims could be up to a 90% capacity improvement over the current best batteries on the market. And Kodak’s new investment will serve to accelerate the process, with the goal of having the EV battery on the market within two years.

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How will the partnership work?

Kodak is furnishing its coating and engineering services, noting that it plans to develop and scale its film coating technologies “which are critical for the safety and reliability of the next generation of EV battery technology.”

In exchange, if and when these new batteries hit the market, the film manufacturer will be able to negotiate production and licensing agreements with Wildcat.

Why EV batteries?

Given Kodak’s history, the well-informed wouldn’t be surprised. Already, the company has been piloting a coating facility that focuses on materials and substrates of EV batteries and fuel cells for a variety of clients. Kodak anticipates the addition of a new machine by 2023 and plans to repurpose a current full-scale coating machine that focuses solely on serving the EV market. 

“This investment in Wildcat reflects Kodak’s commitment to building new businesses by leveraging our existing skills and infrastructure. Coating substrates is a critical aspect of manufacturing batteries and no one is better at coating than Kodak,” says Jim Continenza, Kodak’s Executive Chairman and CEO. “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with an innovator like Wildcat to provide more powerful, safer solutions for applications such as energy storage and EV batteries and participate in this rapidly growing market.”