Good afternoon! What an exciting opportunity to bring together the Colorado community to celebrate manufacturing. In the late ’90s, how many Colorado manufacturing businesses were using robotic welding machines or metal 3D printers to yield production parts? Very few (pause), able to count them on one hand. By 2020 … TODAY, what is the probability there will be manufacturing capability in space? 100%, NASA and Made in Space have already sent the first 3D printer to the International Space Station and the next iteration is due to arrive in 2020. The world is changing, evolving at an unprecedented pace and we collectively must expand our manufacturing “toolbox” & advance our workforce expertise. We should not fear the change but rather must embrace the opportunity. Thanks to the pro-business environment, competitive tax structure, central location, and access to a highly qualified workforce, Colorado-based manufacturing businesses and institutions are perfectly positioned to ride the upcoming wave of change.
My name is Matthew Malone and I work for Barber-Nichols Inc. I currently oversee the Program Management Office for Repeat Products. This includes manufacturing air turbine pumps that ingest and pressurize seawater to launch torpedoes out of NAVY submarines, fuel delivery turbopumps that propel rocket engines to space, and cryogenic pumps that cool magnets for physics research labs. During my tenure, I have experienced first-hand the growing manufacturing footprint in Colorado that will improve the world we live in!
It has been inspiring to participate in the Colorado Office of Economic Development’s initiative that has provided $35M of proof-of-manufacturing and early-stage grant funding to stimulate next-generation advanced manufacturing businesses. $35M! Colorado continues to demonstrate its monetary commitment to supporting the advanced manufacturing prowess. Companies such as ActivArmor, a manufacturer of 3D printed custom casts and RCAM Technologies, developing 3D printed concrete foundations for offshore wind turbines are a few that have reaped the benefits. Moreover, Colorado-based venture capital funds have invested $332M in Colorado manufacturing companies and the amount continues to increase year over year. The combinations of state and private funding channels will continue to fuel the manufacturing growth in Colorado. My favorite part is witnessing businesses from the Western Slope to the Southern Border to the Front Range participate in these unique entrepreneurial opportunities.
In Colorado, we have access to quality manufacturing and engineering education that will continue to ensure our workforce is aligned with mega-trend growth. Trade schools like Warren-Tech, Metro State, and Red Rocks Community College are developing our next generation of skilled labor talent. At Barber-Nichols, we have recruited and trained several employees out of these programs with tremendous success. With the proper mentorship, we have experienced a 6-month training curve to be producing critical aerospace or defense hardware! As a result, the average annual wage for manufacturers in Colorado is 43% higher than the average annual wage for all other industries. Moreover, in Colorado, we have research institutions that specifically focus on manufacturing innovation. The University of Colorado Boulder is pioneering advanced manufacturing in the aerospace and medical industries while Colorado School of Mines is focused on the metallurgy and geology industries. These institutions stimulate a learning environment for new manufacturing technologies which enables businesses to quickly implement/adapt when the time is right to remain competitive.
It is our reality that robots and additive manufacturing ARE changing the manufacturing landscape, but we should not respond with fear, as these manufacturing techniques complement our current toolbox. In 2015, Barber-Nichols designed the upper and lower stage rocket engine turbopumps for Virgin Orbit to launch satellites to space. Thanks to BNI’s proven design methodology and co-located manufacturing the design to manufacturing cycle time was only 18 months which was unprecedented; the typical industry-standard was 5-years! In 2019, only 4-years later, Barber-Nichols produced a similar product offering for a start-up rocket company utilizing a combination of traditional and additive manufacturing (3D printing) and reduced the cycle time to 11 months. We replaced conventional Inconel castings with 24-week lead times with in-house 3D printed, fully machined housings. Yes, our traditional manufacturing workforce was fearful of job redundancy due to additive manufacturing. But without this adaptation, we feared obsolescence as our customers would vertically integrate to move quicker. Even if you don’t have THE specific manufacturing equipment in-house there are many local opportunities you can take advantage of. ADEPT at Colorado School of Mines hosts a monthly gathering to collaborate on additive manufacturing. Made in Colorado hosts events like today to network and brainstorm on cross-industry hot topics. Also, many state-reimbursed training grants are available for training & education through Manufacturing Edge. Take some time to brainstorm one manufacturing technique or process to add to your current TOOLBOX to change the game! Don’t fear the change, make it a reality.
Colorado manufacturing is positioned perfectly to thrive! A quality workforce is attracted to the geographic area with the surrounding outdoors and the local education is focused on developing world-class skilled tradesmen. Colorado is home to nearly 6,000 manufacturers across a variety of business sectors such as electronics, energy, aerospace, biomedical, and food, and beverage and are disrupting their industries with advancements in manufacturing technologies. Any chance you have Googled anything related to aerospace lately? The odds are high that a Colorado company was involved in the project. From Hubble Space Telescope to Dream Chaser to Orion, Colorado’s aerospace companies are at the forefront of space travel, exploration and groundbreaking research for the U.S. Government and NASA alike.
Not only are the “big” companies like MolsonCoors, Ball Aerospace, Sierra Nevada thriving. We are all riding the title wave and expanding our manufacturing “toolbox”. Two weeks ago, Barber-Nichols hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to commence the construction of an exciting new 43,000 sq ft world-class manufacturing facility. Senator Gardner, Congressman Perlmutter, and Mayor Williams attended to show their commitment to expanding the manufacturing footprint right here in Colorado. Together as one team, the state, institutions, and businesses can continue to share best practices and explore new manufacturing technologies to keep Colorado at the manufacturing forefront. Think outside your industry, Pacific Northwest clam diggers started using neighboring farm equipment to automate the clam harvesting process. Think outside the box and brainstorm one way YOU can help a neighbor or a neighbor can help YOU! The collective community of manufacturers is much stronger as a team and together, we can change the world and proudly represent the great state we live in!
Matthew Malone, Program Management Manager -Repeat Products