SMALL BUSINESS FINDS SUCCESS TWICE.
Ruben Leon has spent much of his life developing innovative automation and aerospace devices. As an outgrowth of his efforts, the 60 year old has found himself a couple of profitable high-tech niches since moving to the US. He now serves as head of R&D for two companies he launched. One builds tabletop CNC mills and lathes and the other manufactures aviation instruments.
Levil's tabletop machines are designed for small machine shops, jewelers, educational institutions and R&D laboratories that want to fit a complete CNC system into a small space. The machines feature servo-control technology that enables high speeds and precision when machining small parts or prototypes made of a variety of materials, including plastics, aluminum and steel. Though small in size, Levil's machines aren't limited to small volume manufacturing. Andres said said that the company's second biggest customer, a Malaysian firm, uses the machines for round- the- clock manufacturing of plastic lenses measuring 4mm x 4mm.
FLIGHT INSTRUMENTS TAKE OFF. As for Ruben Leon's aviation business, it didn't start out as a business at all. "There were a bunch of instruments I wanted to put on an airplane I was making," Ruben said. "The instruments were extremely expensive, so I decided I could make them for a lot less money than I could buy them". At an air show, he showed one of his instruments to representatives of a big aviation company. "They liked it and asked him to build one for them like that," recalled Ruben's daughter, Ananda Leon, who grew up flying with her father and is now a private pilot. Eventually, her father and a neighbor came up with a product that was aproved by the FAA for installation in an aircraft. "So we started selling aviation products around 2008," Ananda said. "That was the yearI graduated from college, and I started working for the company." Today Ananda is General Manager and Chief Software engineer of Levil Aviation. Levil Aviation manufactures standalone Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS) designed to replace conventional mechanical flight instruments. The company also claims to have developed the first iPad compatible AHRS for general aviation. "All of your instrumentation is in a little box with a Wi-Fi chip that sends all the flight datato an iPad,"said Ananda. "Basically, you have a full panel in the palm of your hand for emergency purposes." Users of Levil Aviation's products are aircraft manufacturers and pilots who want to upgrade their instrument panels. Plenty of aircraft could use such upgrades. "I would say that 70 percent of the airplanes in use today are at least 40 years old," Ananda said. "So they have very old panel instrumentation that is heavy and requires a lot of power"
Source: Condensed article from Micro Manufacturing magazine July/August 2015 issue.