The Japanese think so and have-tried to sign up super startups who can’t attract U.S. corporations to their superwares

SACRAMENTO, CALIF--"It’s too low-tech for some people," admits Ray Anderson cheerfully. "But I like the idea: using low tech to make high tech." Anderson casts a slightly apologetic glance around his company’s big workshop. A crazy quilt of clutter fills it: stacked chairs, boxes, empty Pepsi cans, silvery asbestos-lined gloves, metal shelves, wooden benches and, of course, a bright-blue hydraulic press.

Using that big hydraulic press, his small corporation, Ceracon Inc., is making superconducting history. Ceracon is molding the new high-temperature super conducting materials into denser tougher, potentially machinable, shapes.

From there, says Anderson, it’s just a short step to products, a new superefficient magnet for, say, medical imaging devices.

One might assume that U.S. manufacturers would be flipping over the idea, after all, Anderson’s was one of the first practical...

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