MOUND HOUSE - Despite its small space in Nevada's manufacturing community, 2Phase Technologies Inc. has secured a $1.1 million government contract and attracted attention from around the world with its patented tool-making method.
The high-tech developer, which incorporated in Nevada in 2001, is located off Industrial Parkway in a new 2,500-square-foot manufacturing center.
And more of its business is coming to Nevada.
The majority of the manufacturing is being moved from its Santa Clara, Calif., center to the new Mound House location. Owners Linda Clements and John Crowley, who are married, chose Mound House because they wanted to have the development in their home county. The couple has lived in Dayton for 13 years.
The company, which first broke even in 2004, has only four part-time workers in Nevada. It'll pick up more as it expands and contracts come in, Clements said. 2Phase formed a development team that includes researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas.
The composite manufacturing company began in their Dayton garage in 1998. The idea for the technology came from the mind of 2Phase's inventor, who Clements called their brilliant "absent-minded professor," Ted Jacobson.
He invented a method of reformable tool making that Clements said is not done anywhere else in the world. The company owns two U.S. patents and patents in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia.
"There is no competition," she said. "We've talked to people from probably 25 foreign countries and there is nothing else like it out there."
The business has secured several lucrative contracts, including the $1.1 million contract with the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. It is the second year of the contract.
Although the composite tool-making process sounds complicated, and Clements is more than eager to explain every aspect of it, it begins with a simple illustration: a balloon.
A balloon full of sand and water hardens after you drain all the water from it, which was an idea developed by Jacobson. He filled a balloon with sand and a little bit of water then used a syringe to suck out the excess water. Until the water is sucked out, the balloon is easily moldable.
"With this idea we progressed to do systems that could manufacture tools for commercial, industrial and military uses," she said.
But unlike this illustration, the actual process doesn't use sand. Instead they use ceramic microspheres that are like tiny glass balloons. To hold these microspheres together they use water with a binder or "glue." When the water is withdrawn it retains the shape that it has been molded into it.
This process uses materials that can be reversibly transformed into liquid to solid with no change in volume.
"We can make it faster and less expensive than others," she said. "And if the tool isn't made correctly it can be put back in the system and softened or reformed."
This technology would be most beneficial in high-stress situations - such as a combat zone, which is why 2Phase received continued sponsorship from the military.
Rapid repair cuts the time and the cost to the military, she said. So when a Black Hawk helicopter gets shot down in Iraq, it can be repaired in less time using this technology and returned to the field.
This year 2Phase workers will develop a process to repair or replace damaged helicopter parts. Clements said she hopes to secure the contract for a third year so that the company can then transfer the technology to the Army personnel who will be doing repairs.
"We can cut six to eight weeks off how long it takes to do normal repairs," she said. "Sometimes the repairs are not ideal, but you can repair it right there and can get it back in the air."
Crowley, president and chief executive officer of 2Phase, said the contract will provide a significant boost to the country's military preparedness.
Michael Monroe, of Dayton, was recently hired by the company to run the washing material station. He said the job provides a better environment and pay than his auto-body shop job. 2Phase also gives him a greater focus: He's working with a company that is helping to defend the country. Monroe will start full-time work when the move is completed.
"I've been looking forward to it the day they told me I was hired," he said.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.