Since its founding in 1953,
in Robesonia has been a leader in research, development and manufacture of master alloys for the aerospace industry.
But a strategic decision a decade ago to diversify using existing equipment and technology has opened up a vast new market, says Dr. Colin McCracken, director of product and market development. The answer: producing titanium powder for the medical industry.
Titanium powder, explains McCracken, is used to coat the outside of orthopedic implants, allowing bone to grow and promoting a permanent bond. The material is widely used in replacement hips, knees, elbows and shoulders and in dental implants.
With an aging population, demand for the product has grown so much that Reading more than doubled its Berks County manufacturing facility last year, to 20,000 square feet, and grew its workforce by 12 percent to 150, McCracken says. Today, the plant is running at full capacity.
Reading recently launched a new titanium powder product that, unlike other such powders, is comprised of spherical particles, allowing for different applications and opening further new markets. Reading is using a unique manufacturing process to produce the spherical titanium powder, McCracken says. The company's R&D division, he adds, continues to work on new products with the medical industry as a key market focus.
The diversification "best demonstrates a 'break the mold' approach to integrating new or existing technology into a manufacturing environment," says Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
, which handed Reading (acquired in 2008 by Ametek
, a global maker of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices), a 2012 Innovation Award earlier this year.
Source: Dr. Colin McCracken, Reading Alloys
Writer: Elise Vider