Large Machining Supports TV Broadcast Infrastructure and More

Large Machining Supports TV Broadcast Infrastructure and More

Customers come to us with all kinds of manufacturing needs, quite often when a feasible solution is needed for a challenging fabrication requirement. Large metal components must be made in the shapes and sizes that engineered designs call for.

When parts are large, there’s a likelihood that we’ll hear about it thanks to word of mouth and the limited capabilities of other machine shops. Our tag line seems to be self-fulfilling; “Where others see problems, we see opportunities.” And when we see those opportunities, we act!

Investments in large CNC machining and handling equipment that we first made in 1999, and then in 2017 and 2018, have resulted in fulfilling the modernization of the nation’s broadcast infrastructure according to FCC mandates. And these same investments are paying off in other critical manufacturing areas.

Tooled Up for Larger Machining Projects

Part of the first FCC requirement was that TV signals had to go from analog to digital, largely to support high definition television. This meant that all of the antennas used for broadcasting TV signals over the airwaves needed to be replaced coast to coast. GMFCo tooled up to become a major national supplier of the masts used for constructing these antennas.

Another FCC mandate required that UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and VHF (Very High Frequency) signal ranges be sold or transferred to the cellular companies for the bandwidth that can handle 5G mobile technology. As a result, approximately 1,600 broadcast antenna masts needed to be replaced for the signals to be ‘’repacked’’ into a lower, tighter frequency range. Our experience in manufacturing antenna masts for America’s digital TV broadcasting placed us in prime position to help build the foundation that enables 5G technology. This collaborative effort has taken wireless communication to a new level.

The nationwide broadcast communication infrastructure project is nearly complete and our large machining investments are now being deployed in other areas. These include building large architectural metal fabrications, structural building components and making equipment parts that support our troops in the field.

Making a Physical Impact

As a company, we feel a sense of gratitude knowing our work makes a difference in people’s lives across the country. Because of our willingness to invest what it takes to tackle an immediate large metal fabrication challenge, new opportunities to use those investments always seem to open up for us. Word of mouth concerning expanded capabilities in large, complex metal components gets around and new projects come our way.

We more than doubled our large machining capacity over the last decade. Each equipment upgrade and plant expansion was made to fulfill a challenging market need. When you invest for the right reasons with the confidence of further leveraging those investments, you can be better assured of continued growth. This has been our experience ever since our company started in 1975.

Upsizing Careers

GMFCo is a career oriented company. We’re keenly aware of job market challenges which is why we keep investing in the human side of our company as well as the operational. We’re always looking to attract talented and career-minded engineers, machinists, welders, equipment handlers and management people. Most of our team members have been with us more than 10 years which says a lot these days! Please reach out to us if you have any questions about capabilities or careers.

Supporting the Science to Revolutionize Energy Production

GMFCo Produces Large Copper Fabrications for MIT Plasma-Fusion Experiment

MIT – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – has partnered with private industry to create the world’s highest-performance magnets to be used in the development of fusion energy. When this experimental work is successfully completed, these magnets will be deployed in building the first controlled fusion energy production experiment known as “SPARC.” The experiment offers great promise to revolutionize clean energy production. Power may become much cheaper and cleaner, and the fuel source is virtually unlimited.

Power Generation Breakthrough?

“SPARC,” a compact, high-field, net fusion energy initiative, will validate a high temperature, superconducting technology and advance the creation of the world’s first fusion energy reactor. This technology could potentially power us through the next millennia.

GMFCo is playing a critical role by manufacturing large copper D-shaped ring fabrications that serve as crucial layers in the “tapes” or “ribbons” used for building super high-performance magnets. Such magnets are required in the physics to create an environment where a fusion reaction can take place and produce net energy.

Science & Technology Solving Global Problems

The science behind this ambitious project is as fascinating as it is complex. So much theoretical and experimental progress has been made in fusion energy science that now the MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Center, in collaboration with Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is advancing the design for the actual building of SPARC.

MIT has dedicated a microsite to this experiment which delves into the history, science and ongoing work of the project. Learn more by visiting https://www.psfc.mit.edu/sparc.

Scaling Precision Fabrications to Size

As the world turns and technology never rests, GMFCo remains committed to being on the leading edge of large metal fabrication and precision machining. Our role in the SPARC initiative resulted in part from the challenge of finding a fabricator to produce the needed copper layers at the size and tolerance required for SPARC’s superconducting ribbons.

The opportunity to work with MIT on the SPARC project is another case of answering the call of our motto, “where others see problems, we see opportunities.” It’s in our DNA to support the science and engineering behind building more complex and amazing machines that help improve our lives.

If you have a large metal fabrication or machining challenge, talk with us. We’re always listening for opportunities to offer breakthrough solutions to manufacturing challenges.

GMFCo Supports Critical Manufacturing for COVID-19 Testing

A New England based manufacturer of the best virus testing swabs available recently contacted us because of our large machining and fabricating capabilities. In extremely short order, GMFCo began fabricating frames and housings for medical test swab manufacturing equipment to rapidly increase capacity. Practically overnight, Puritan Medical Products needed to multiply it’s swab manufacturing capacity, meeting worldwide demand for COVID-19 testing.

Headquartered in Gilford, Maine, Puritan was already a leading US-based manufacturer of medical swabs, diagnostics and specimen collection products before COVID-19. Then the pandemic swept across the world and multiplied global demand for their products overnight. As soon as we got the call, GMFCo understood the urgency of supporting Puritan Medical Products’ manufacturing operations so we tooled up to produce the frames and larger components needed to further build out their swab production lines. This resulted in the fastest and most efficient increase in manufacturing capability in company history. It also helped make the USA the top nation in the world for COVID-19 testing, by far.

Manufacturing Collaboration at Its Best

When it became clear there was an urgent worldwide and national health threat, manufacturers’ priorities shifted immediately over to supporting the critical infrastructure and healthcare systems. That we did. Working closely with the engineers and mechanics at Puritan, we helped assure that their urgent need for new equipment parts was fulfilled.

Fruitful efforts like these supported President Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiatives that rapidly increased critical manufacturing around the country. Puritan Medical Products’ expansion to produce the most accurate specimen collection swabs in testing for COVID-19 was crucial to its success. Because Puritan is the only US maker of the preferred foam testing swab, they were awarded a federal contract to expand swab production capacity at a record speed.

“Warp Speed” Plant Expansion

Puritan’s blog tells part of their story as excerpted here. “We began work on a new manufacturing plant immediately, with two teams working virtually around the clock. We leased 100,000 square feet of space in an old smoke detector factory in Pittsfield, ME, rebuilding much of it…

“While a project of this type normally takes 18-20 months, with the help of our partners, we were able to begin swab production in just 8 weeks. And 5 months later, the plant was completed.

“Prior to opening Pittsfield, we were making 20 million foam swabs per month.  The goal set forth by the Defense Production Act government contact was to increase capacity by another 20 to 40 million swabs per month. We’re excited to report that Pittsfield is already turning out 40 million and is on track to increase production to 90 million swabs per month!”

More Positive Impacts

The 2020 Puritan Medical Products plant expansions led to the creation of over 300 new jobs in central Maine where the manufacturing sector has struggled in recent decades. “It’s great to help bring back manufacturing jobs that were once so prevalent in central Maine,” the company’s blog stated.

GMFCo’s CEO Jack Gilchrist, a US Air Force Veteran and former medic, put his company’s role in perspective when he said, “2020 was the year that reminded us what words like ‘crisis’ and ‘urgent’ really mean. You drop everything in front of you when millions of lives are potentially at stake. You wake up, suit up and show up wherever you’re most needed. Working with Puritan and other companies who answer urgent needs brings into focus why we’re always ready to pivot on a dime, gear up and retool our large machining centers to help address national priorities.”