Frank Reick is a natural-born tinkerer. His first laboratory, located under the front porch of his parents’ house, consisted of two concrete blocks and a board stretched lengthwise across the top. He was five years old. He has since expanded.
“I was just going to be an inventor. I started inventing when I was three years old,” Reick said “I basically have been at it all my life. Everything was an invention. I would dismember everything I could lay my hands on. I’ve just never stopped. I’m still tinkering.”
Reick, president of Fluoramics, Inc. graduated with an engineering degree from Syracuse University in 1952. He quickly put his education to use — first working on cathode ray tube technology for color televisions with General Electric, and later on the 465L Strategic Command and Control System (among other projects) with ITT Corporation.
But his inventor’s spirit and a distaste for bureaucracy led Reick to leave the corporate world and focus on his true passion of inventing.
“I didn’t like the overall attitude of the company,” Reick said. “I had decided I was going to start my own company or die. I’m the sort of person who doesn’t function well inside a big bureaucracy.”
Reick, whose nearly 40 patents and inventions range from medical diagnostic instruments to ski wax to children’s toys, struck out on his own.
In the mid-1960s, Reick set out to develop a thread sealant that could be used in gaseous and liquid oxygen applications. The resulting product, Formula-8, was a highly-effective paste thread sealer that could be used by itself or in conjunction with other thread sealing measures (e.g.Teflon tape). Formula-8 required no curing time, and could be used in hard-to-reach applications due to its thixotropic base. With the creation of Formula-8, Fluoramics was born.
The company now has an impressive portfolio of lubrication, sealant and corrosion prevention products — all based on Reick’s own research and development.
Fluoramics’ flagship product Tufoil is used widely across the globe in industrial and consumer applications. The result of more than eight years of development, Tufoil came about as a result of Reick’s pursuit of his secondary passion — flying airplanes.
“One day, I was flying down the corridor in New York City,” Reick said. “I saw the crud coming up from the canyons and I figured I’d have to do something about that — the automobile exhaust. That’s what started the Tufoil project.”
Tufoil was tested by multiple groups, including the Canadian and U.S. government and was discovered by the National Bureau of Standards to be the slipperiest substance in existence with a metal-to-metal coefficient of friction of .029. It was recognized in 1996 as the world’s “most efficient lubricant” by the Guinness Book of World Records — a title it still holds today.
Tufoil is used as a general lubricant for a variety of purposes and in conjunction with other lubricants in gearboxes and engines to reduce friction, wear, noise, and operating temperatures, to preserve and extend the lifespan of machinery.
Newly introduced to the market within the last year is Reick’s latest invention — a solvent-free lubricant and rust inhibitor called HinderRust. The dual-purpose of the product is what sets HinderRust apart from its competitors, according to the company. Aside from being simply an anti-corrosive, HinderRust is a highly-effective lubricant with complex chemistry. It is highly surface active, allowing for easy application and deep penetration.
Like with Tufoil, HinderRust came about because Reick came face-to-face with a problem and committed himself to finding a solution. Only this time, his personal safety was the driving factor.
While driving his car one day, Reick applied the brake pedal and it went all the way to the floor. As a pilot trained to handle such situations, he was able to maneuver the car to safety without incident. Upon getting the car to a repair shop and learning that the metal brake lines had rusted through, he vowed to find a solution.
“I thought it was absolutely unforgivable that they would build a time bomb like that into a car,” Reick said. “I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something about this.’ That got me interested in rust. And I spent about two years on rust chemistry. It got so good, we found out that we had jumped way ahead of the pack.”
Most notably, according to Reick, is HinderRust’s ability to perform both of its functions while not containing any solvents. Solvents, Reick said, can prove to be dangerous in enclosed applications. Safety, Reick said, was something he was not willing to compromise when introducing his new product.
“(In enclosed situations) you don’t want to be using solvents. You’ll blow yourself up,” Reick said. “Either that or you’ll poison yourself. I made up my mind I wasn’t going to do that. I had a few goals in mind. First — no solvents. Two — it had to be a good lubricant. Third — it had to be the best rust inhibitor in the world.”