Titan Robotics and Terra Ferma, both of Colorado Springs, have been awarded grants totaling nearly $500,000 to help turn new technology into commercial products.
The two companies were among 37 Colorado firms that received $7.66 million in grants from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade under the agency’s advanced industries accelerator program. The grants are to demonstrate proof of concept and to help attract or retain early-stage capital for companies to turn newly developed technology into commercial products that can be created or made in Colorado and exported globally.
The office received 100 grant applications and invited 24 companies to pitch their plans last month to a special committee. The Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded the grants last week.
Titan Robotics builds and sells large-scale, industrial 3-D printers; it also does print jobs for customers. Titan plans to use its $250,000 grant to build a demonstration unit of its latest industrial 3-D printer, hire two employees and show the unit to customers at trade shows in April and May, which could be virtual events, said Rahul Kasat, a partner in the company. He said the new printer is a “state-of-the-art, evolutionary product” that will produce better-quality parts that don’t require finishing after manufacture, reducing cost.
The grant requires Titan to match the grant with $500,000 of its own funding. The company was encouraged to apply by the Colorado Spring Chamber & EDC.
“We have a lot of projects in our (research and development) pipeline. This will help us commercialize one of the key technologies we have developed in the past six months,” Kasat said. “This grant will allow us to accelerate and commercialize breakthrough technology in industrial additive manufacturing, furthering Titan’s mission of enabling the adoption of 3-D printing into industrial production.”
The company was started in 2014 by Clay Guillory as a hobby, moved last year to a 22,000-square-foot complex near the Colorado Springs Airport and now has 27 employees. Guillory added Kasat and Bill Macy as partners in Titan two years ago.
The company manufactured face shields earlier this year to combat a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. The company has hired seven employees this year and plans to add another five to seven in the next six months, Kasat said.
Additive manufacturing — or industrial 3-D printing — helps produce everything from prosthetics to footwear to car parts. Most 3-D printers use a filament system, similar to plastic string used in lawn trimmers. Titan uses widely available injection-molding pellets in a process called pellet extrusion, which is faster and allows for a greater range of materials. The company’s printers are typically custom-built to order.
Terra Ferma plans to use its $249,869 grant to enhance its manufacturing and launch new products that will be announced early next year, the company said in an email. Terra Ferma develops and sells “rugged” power over Ethernet products, including switches, injectors and lightning protection units used to power and transmit data from outdoor radios, cameras and sensors used by the military, government agencies and industrial companies.
The company was started by disabled Army veteran Dennis Rourke in 2015 and has grown to six employees. The company uses U.S. contract manufacturers to make its product line, making its gear the only U.S.-made, military-qualified power over Ethernet products available off the shelf. Terra Ferma also is developing technology to send data over light waves (LiFi) as a more secure form of data transmission than traditional Wi-Fi using radio waves.
Applications for next year’s grants can can be submitted between Jan. 1 and March 1. The advanced industry accelerator program was started in 2013 and has awarded $86.5 million in grants.