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Colorado Companies to Watch 2015: Advanced Manufacturing


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ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

FHE USA LLC

Fruita – builtbyfhe.com – Founded: 2007

Strong values dictate how FHE approaches work each and every day, accounting for its story of success.

Whether customers approach FHE with an unworkable configuration, an absurd delivery date or inconceivable challenge, the team of more than 25 faces customer requests with determination. FHE manufactures, services and certifies pressure control equipment for the wire line sector of the oil and gas industry. The company is also a Colorado licensed auto dealer for the purpose of customizing trailers to most efficiently haul wire line equipment according to individual customer specifications.

FHE has been awarded the Colorado Excellence Award from the U.S. Trade & Commerce Institute and Inc. magazine’s Top 5,000 fastest growing private companies.

WATCH OUT: FHE is committed to developing new products, specifically for petroleum engineering. Moreover the company is looking to extend its market internationally, particularly into the Middle East.

ColdQuanta Inc.

Boulder – coldquanta.com – Founded: 2007

Quantum physics is hardly a walk in the park – but ColdQuanta has a firm handle on the specialty. The company grew up after decades of research in atomic physics by professor Dana Anderson and his work at JILA. His innovative, patented technology intrigued the company’s founding partners, as well as Bose-Einstein technologies. Their goal was for the company to become a world leader in commercial cold and ultracold atom technology. The team’s expertise lies in the development and production of ultra-high vacuum devices and systems, atom chips and high-quality glass cells.

Thus, between the original team’s mix of business savvy and scientific skills, ColdQuanta has pursued strategies to leverage its intellectual property and partner with academic institutions, government entities and investment capital, becoming a global leader in the commercial supply of devices and systems to produce solutions to the issues surrounding the production of ultracold and cold matter.

A move last-year into an 8,300-square-foot facility provided room for expansion, multi-disciplinary engineering and assembly, an optics lab, electronic work stations, two clean rooms, a laser lab, and an in-house machine shop and ultra-high vacuum processing facility.

WATCH OUT FOR: Scientists will continue to participate in research programs to advance hardware such as cold ion traps, optical lattices and quantum repeaters destined for apps such as quantum simulation and quantum information processing. While continuing with the existing business of commercializing cold atom devices, components and systems, the team is exploring the quantum communications and quantum information processing markets.

Aleph Objects

Loveland – alephobjects.com – Founded: 2011

In mid-spring, Forbes published an article titled, “LulzBot 3D Printers:
A Glimpse Into the Future of American Manufacturing.” The subject was the boom of the 3D printing market, and Aleph Objects was at the center of the game-changing storyline.

The northern Colorado business recently doubled its manufacturing capacity of its LulzBots ( “Lulz”–  a derivative of Laugh Out Loud) by adding an in-house assembly line at its 17,000-square-foot facility. Aleph, as the story goes, bases a major portion of its manufacturing process on its own 3D printers. The company operates a cluster of 144 LulzBot 3D printers that run 24 hours a day, five days a week, creating parts for its own printers. The organization recently hit a major milestone with 500,000 parts produced in its own factory. Roughly half of Aleph’s customers are using their LulzBots for professional purposes – including many enterprise-level customers who are primarily using 3D printers to create prototypes.

KEEP WATCHING: The company preaches and practices transparency, operating with a free software and open-source philosophy to achieve collaborative research, rapid iteration, community participation and product flexibility. The team behind-the-scenes expects more personal and professional users to adopt this technology. For appliance and other manufacturers, the use of 3D printers could simplify the parts-replacement process dramatically. Imagine if you could simply request a design for a broken part and print it out at home!

Qualtek Manufacturing

Colorado Springs – qualtekmfg.com – Founded: 2000

Qualtek is a Colorado Springs-based metal manufacturer specializing in press stamping, metal finishing and heat-treating processes with customers and suppliers along the Front Range. The company aims to lead the resurgence of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. by outpacing industry standards in quality measurements, on-time delivery, process control, environmental impact reduction and socially responsible business practices.

Metal manufacturing is an energy-intensive industry, so in 2011 Qualtek set goals to reduce its electricity and natural-gas use. The company – named a Silver Member of the 2013 Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge — created an executive position, director of E (Energy, Efficiency and Environment), and established the E-Team, which runs projects from battery recycling to the Qualtanic Garden that composts coffee grounds and vegetable waste. The third-generation family-owned company installed a 30-kilowatt solar array on its office/warehouse building in January 2012, and the system supplies 100 percent of electricity needs. The water used for cooling in the heat treat department is diverted and reused, saving roughly 100,000 gallons of water a year.

Keep watching for: There’s significant opportunity with heat treatment and metal finishing.

Alpen High Performance Products

(Niwot – thinkalpen.com – Founded: 2006

Though speculation arose years ago that the “green fad” would fade, Alpen High Performance hedged its bets to the contrary, and sustainability has become standard operating procedure for individuals and businesses. Hence Alpen’s competitive advantage. “We see the whole market expanding,” says CEO Brad Begin. The manufacturing business builds versatile window, glass and door solutions that meet the energy efficiency needs of a changing world, and improve the comfort and durability of the buildings in which we live and work. Continually reiterating its products – Alpen’s motto when it comes to bringing in and maintaining business is open, honest communication with customers.

Watch Out: The company is introducing new ultra-high performance products intended to continue and accelerate growth. More announcements to come for the company’s manufacturing capabilities and broader offerings in the window, door and glass arenas, after its recent move into a new facility.

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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