Steelhead Composites acquires key machine

A new neck forming machine aids in production of Type 3 composite pressure vessels.

Steelhead Composites (Denver, Colo.), a designer and manufacturer of lightweight pressure vessels, announced on February 25 the purchase and installation of a heavy duty CNC neck forming machine manufactured by MJC Engineering and Technology (Huntington Beach, Calif.). The machine is specially designed for manufacturing of high pressure cylinders with aluminum liners up to 42cm (16.7in) in diameter and up to 3m (10ft) in length.

The acquisition coincides with the company’s recent announcement that it has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the state of Colorado as part of their Early Stage Advanced Industries Program to promote growth and sustainability across various industries. Steelhead is committed to being part of Colorado’s burgeoning leadership in advanced manufacturing, clean tech and entrepreneurship, and is one of only a select few companies in the state to be awarded this honor.

The neck forming machine, a key component in Steelhead’s manufacturing of Type 3 composite pressure vessels, shapes a seamless aluminum tube to form a bottle with a domed end and port openings. The company then wraps the bottle with carbon fiber composite using state-of-the-art filament winding capabilities. After the composite material is cured, the vessel is subjected to rigorous in-house testing. The company will provide composite overwrapped pressure vessels to customers who demand a high pressure, lightweight gas storage solution such as high-pressure compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders and hydrogen cylinders. The company also uses the machine to manufacture their novel lightweight hydraulic accumulators.

“This acquisition helps prove that manufacturing is not dead in the U.S., and we are proud to have these metal forming capabilities alongside a top-notch design, engineering and manufacturing team. By implementing this unique manufacturing technology to produce tight tolerance pressure vessels here in Colorado we are improving the local supply chain and ecosystem for alternative fuels technologies,” explains Andrew Coors, founder and CEO of Steelhead Composites.

Steelhead Composites was founded in October 2012 in response to an existing market need for a high quality manufacturer of large, high-pressure, lightweight vessels.