Advanced-metals factory gears up in Maltby

MALTBY — A Seattle-based startup hopes a new production line here will help it transform the way everything from oil rigs to cars to airplanes are made.

Started in 2007, Modumetal makes non-corrosive nanolaminated materials — basically, metals that won’t rust and are much stronger than existing materials.

The company has made plenty of products which are used in the field by oil and gas companies and even the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Maltby is Modumetal’s “scale-up facility,” said Christina Lomansey, the company’s CEO and founder.

“The properties of the materials have already been validated. What we’re doing is scaling up the production” to industrial rates, she said.

Corrosion is expensive. A two-year study conducted by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration found that from 1999 to 2001 corrosion accounted for $276 billion in annual costs — about 2.8 percent of the U.S. GDP at the time. Adjusted for inflation, that would be nearly $375 billion in 2014.

Modumetal is expected to formally announced the opening of its 35,000-square-foot Maltby facility by this spring, and is already doing initial runs there. The line currently can produce pieces as big as 15 feet long, and the company plans to increase that to 45 feet later this year.

With adding the new production line and other changes, Lomansey said, she expects to double the size of the Modumetal over the next year.

She won’t say exactly how many employees the company has, but industry sources and news reports put it at about 25.

Lomansey was trained as a physicist at the University of Washington and worked for Boeing before starting Isotron Corp., a composite materials company, in 2001, which she still owns.

Modumetal’s headquarters in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood also houses research, development and prototype production. The company also leases a production line in Long Beach, Calif.

Building on academic research and technology acquired from a former GE subsidiary and the U.S. Department of Energy, Modumetal invented nanolaminated alloys that are practical and affordable for real-world use.

The company “figured out how you actually manufacture these very finely tuned products on an industrial scale” and at a price that makes sense for the market, Lomansey said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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