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Meet the brains behind research in #YesWV and some of West Virginia’s coolest spinoff businesses — Touchstone Research Laboratory


Touchstone Research Laboratory (TRL) started in 1980 in the basement of a monastery, where founder, Brian Joseph, rebuilt a scanning electron microscope purchased for $100. 

The laboratory has come a long way in four decades. Touchstone moved into the Millennium Centre in Triadelphia, WV, in December of 1989. Its offerings expanded, and so did the company. In the 1990s, Touchstone grew in the area of metal matrix composites, building one of the best mechanical testing and characterization facilities available. At this point, Touchstone has solved thousands of manufacturing problems for virtually every kind of manufacturing business in the US.

Touchstone has many innovations and spinout companies. Some of those innovations include:

  • CFOAM: a carbon foam made from coal
  • MetPreg, the world’s strongest aluminum
  • CEASe Blast energy absorbing system
  • Composite tooling technologies
  • Faraday Thermal Protection Systems, for rockets

“Touchstone is such an essential business and a wonderful asset to our state. Spinning out all kinds of inventions and businesses that help grow our state and our workforce is something that we are so proud of. We hope to continue to have a great working relationship with Brian and Touchstone so that we can continue to support them in adding and bringing in new businesses to our state,” says Mitch Carmichael, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development.

In recent years, TRL has licensed many of its inventions, and new products are being developed all the time. #YesWV companies like CFOAM and Veloxint all started at Touchstone. 

Why does Touchstone continue to say #YesWV? “The people here are great to work with, the government here is great to work with, but the biggest pull is the location and its proximity to nature and the outdoors,” says Brian Joseph, president, founder and CEO of TRL. “Young, well-trained people are looking for jobs in places where there is a chance to get out and explore. It’s the best place to do business in the country.”

To learn more about Touchstone Research Laboratory, visit trl.com/

To connect with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, visit westvirginia.gov/.

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