Published August 08, 2013
In a former torpedo factory in Western Pennsylvania, Dynamics Inc. has quietly reinvented the credit card.
The magnetic stripe on the back of every plastic card in your wallet is simply dull paint. Dynamics has invented a better one, a flexible collection of embedded electronics that let you quickly and easily reprogram the strip, thanks to buttons on the front of the card, boosting security and letting you jump between a wide variety of rewards programs.
And unlike the vast majority of the consumer electronics industry, this tech is made in the USA, CEO Jeff Mullen told FoxNews.com.
“We build the devices in western PA, we then personalize the device with the credit cards numbers and holograms in a certified facility, and then we do the reward processing in data centers across the United States,” Mullen said.
Ordinary mag stripes are made from a liquid mixture of magnetic filaments that are poured onto your card and hardened. Dynamics’ credit card tech is a sliver of electronics less than 14,000ths of an inch thick: circuits and silicon and a lithium polymer battery that get sandwiched between the two sides of an ordinary plastic credit card.
And because the company's smart mag stripe is buried in there rather than printed on top, Dynamics is able to print on top of it for the first time ever. So long, brown mag stripe.
“We actually are printing American flags on the mag stripes of our credit cards,” Mullen said, to symbolize the fact that Dynamics is an American company. The American flag credit card is available from Longaberger.
The company and its 100 employees work at a 9-acre former Westinghouse facility, where the company once made torpedos for submarines. Now it's filled with robots churning out credit cards. And Mullen thinks his model -- design and manufacturing side-by-side, here in the U.S. -- could be a smart one for other high-tech companies.
“As electronics gets miniaturized, there’s more incentive to move to the U.S.,” he told FoxNews.com. “When you go to full automation, manufacturing in the U.S. makes sense.”
And despite the small size of the credit card, there’s a lot of big brain packed into it.
“There’s a lot of engineering in that little piece of plastic,” Mullen said.