On the extraordinary variety of modern manufacturers and the similarities that connect them

By Bart Taylor | May 18, 2015

Aerospace & Electronics Consumer & Lifestyle Food & Beverage Industrial & Equipment

Often I marvel at the stories and photographs filed by CompanyWeek writers and photographers. Such was the case this week in both Utah and Colorado editions. Weeks like this remind me why we do what we do.

Manufacturers cut, bend, shape, engineer, fabricate, and innovate regardless of company size or industry. But consider the profound connection that companies share in what otherwise would be unrelated businesses:

Landon Kunzler shapes and welds common utensils -- forks and spoons -- into art, but has embraced Lean manufacturing to improve efficiency and cut costs, an operational tenet any global advanced manufacturer would embrace. Kunzler also trains welders, a craft sorely underappreciated and now in high demand across the manufacturing spectrum. Judson Pryanovich captured one of Kunzler's welders for Forked Up Art profile:

It's easy to envision the fabricated steel that Thriller Manufacturing's 'toys' of the trade bend and shape becoming part of the rocketry that United Launch Alliance uses to lift critical U.S. payloads into space. The visual connection is unmistakable:

Of course, the advanced systems that comprise ULA's command and control efforts would fall on the other end of the manufacturing spectrum, closer to the science and exacting standards that Thomas Perez employs to build a $13,000 coffee machine for Utah-based Alpha Dominche. The following could be a control panel on a ULA launch vehicle -- and is for one of Perez's espresso machines.

Spacecraft and the promise of 'space-age' domestic living have always been connected. Tang was the drink of astronauts.

Ed Lehrburger's 'bioreactors' are integral to a process that's reinventing the way paper products are made. Utilizing agriculture residue like wheat stock, PureVision's innovation is a promising, sustainable option to tree pulp, soon scalable to industrial proportions. It's science, it's sustainable, it's innovative, it's manufacturing.

This week, as ULA's Atlas V rocket carries a U.S. Air Force payload into space (weather permitting), don't forget their industrial brethren who cut, bend, and shape, or the innovators building high-tech coffeemakers or bioreactors to exacting specs to improve our collective lifestyle.

Don't forget the manufacturers.


Thanks to Eric Peterson, Margaret Jackson, Judson Pryanovich, and Jonathan Castner for this week's stories and photos.