Colorado, USA Heat Treater Moves to Larger Building, Adds More Capacity

We last mentioned commercial heat treater Metalex in Berthoud, Colorado, in June of 2022 when the company added a deep cryogenic system (the original posting is below). Since that time the firm has moved into a new 10,000 ft facility and added another cryogenic system, again from the same manufacturer DCT. The two systems are used mainly for DCT 440C, D-2 dies, knife blade blanks and other tooling.  

“JUNE 2022; Heat Treater Metalex Expands into The Aerospace Industry; “Metalex Thermal Specialties in Berthoud, Colorado, USA  just completed accreditation to provide its heat treating services for the aerospace industry complementing the long list of other industries it serves. “There’s a large aerospace industry here in Colorado, and there was no heat treater before us that’s certified to do that, so they’re shipped out of state,” said Chris James, co-owner and general manager of Metalex Thermal Specialties, 205 Turner Ave. “To grow our business, we wanted to get accredited to start processing that type of work and keep it in the state of Colorado.”

​Metalex received the certification, AS9100, in May to be able to process parts used in the aerospace industry, including those for the engine and the fuel system and for the landing and other gears. “It shows we follow the strict quality system (controls) accepted in the aerospace industry,” James said. James and his parents, Bruce and Debra James, purchased Metalex in September 2020, in business under that name since 2005, when the former owner purchased it. Before then it was called Thermal Specialties. “My mom and I worked for a heat treating company in California,” James said. “We were wanting to get our own business, and we wanted to move to Colorado.”

The James family didn’t make any major changes right away, but did immediately put a focus on customer service and improving the turnaround time to five days for parts. They heat treat knife blades, plungers and other parts for the oil and gas industry, parts for food processing equipment, and axle shafts and bearings and gears for automobiles. They also heat treat metal molds used to make plastic parts. They heat treat an average of 90,000 to 100,000 parts a month.

​Heat treating is a process that hardens metal to improve its toughness, wear-resistance and corrosion resistance. The metal is heated in a furnace to a specified temperature, then quenched, or rapidly cooled down to harden it. “Then we temper the material to the hardness range the customer is wanting,” James said. “It’s really important because otherwise, metal wouldn’t hold up to the processes it’s used for. It would be too soft.”

Two months ago, the James family added a deep cryogenics process that in addition to the regular heat-treating process cools metal to -300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cryogenics improves the metallurgical properties of the metal and results in greater wear and corrosion resistance that can’t be achieved with heat alone. “We use hardness to improve hardness resistance,” James said. “It’s one of the newer things to use in heat treating because of the improved benefits you get. That process gives you the best properties of the steel that you can achieve.”

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