Broomfield, Colorado

GM Andrew Igl is running a quick-turn arm for a national medical operation. It doubles as a contract machine shop for customers in aerospace and other industries.

Ingram Machining changed business models when New Hampshire-based EPTAM Precision acquired the machine shop in early 2022. EPTAM specializes in the manufacturing of technology for minimally invasive and robotic surgery as well as other medical devices.

Photos Jonathan Castner

Owner Mark Ingram “was looking to exit” when EPTAM approached him, says Igl. EPTAM already had its metals facility in Colorado Springs with about 150 employees. The company has more than 600 employees in all.

“EPTAM had a pretty impressive portfolio to start with, but what they were lacking was a smaller, more agile shop that could focus on R&D, prototyping, short-run type work,” says Igl of the match. “All of the other shops were really geared toward high-volume production, so it benefited EPTAM and EPTAM’s customers by having prototyping, rapid turn, and production under the same umbrella.”

It led to Ingram Machining’s transformation into EPTAM Precision’s Rapid Launch Center. The move was strategic for the parent company. “We can interact with the facility in Colorado Springs pretty easily,” says Igl. “The idea is we have reserve capacity.”

While Ingram Machining’s focus was aerospace, the acquisition has put medical front and center. Igl says the Rapid Launch Center will become increasingly integrated into the broader EPTAM operation.

Nonetheless, the shop has maintained Ingram’s contract CNC business, focused on Front Range customers; aerospace remains the most prominent industry. “The vast majority of our current backlog is legacy customers,” says Igl. “Most of it is space-driven as opposed to commercial aerospace.”

That means tight tolerances and difficult geometries, and partnering with customers early in the R&D process. “We’ll make highly complex, multi-op parts, sometimes out of exotic materials,” says Igl. “We also have access to a pretty good library of high-quality secondary processing houses for things like plating, painting, and NDI [non-destructive inspection].”

He adds, “Our focus is going to be quality. We’re not going to be the cheapest shop in town, but you’re going to get a damn good part from us.”

QA is another focal point: “When we get these highly complex parts, it doesn’t really matter if you can machine them if you can’t measure them,” notes Igl. “I’m pretty proud of our high-end equipment and our extremely talented inspection crew.”

The 20,000-square-foot facility in Broomfield is also home to four CNC lathes and 10 mills, including 4- and 5-axis systems, and a pair of wire EDMs. “As far as manufacturing equipment goes, we’re pretty well covered,” says Igl.

Challenges: “Increasing our capacity,” says Igl. “Right now, we have more than enough work being sent to us to quote, and we aren’t able to offer the lead times that we want because the backlog is so full. It’s a good problem to have.”

Supply chain has also been a problem: “Raw material lead times and availability are often stretched and expanded, so we’re sometimes not able to offer lead times that we would otherwise be able to if we could get the material.”

Opportunities: Igl says EPTAM’s ownership of the shop affords “access to a whole pile of new customers,” noting, “We have this situation where we don’t know what’s lurking out there, but every so often, we have somebody come in and give us a problem we can help solve. While we may not realize it, a happy customer might issue a production order to one of our other facilities.”

Another opportunity: “We also recognize the semiconductor space and the enormous pressure it’s under worldwide.”

Needs: A half-dozen rock star machinists to launch a second shift. “We have machinists that are not machine operators, they’re machine artists,” says Igl. “They do the programming, they do the setup, the machining, the measuring, making sure a good part goes to inspection. They’re the full package.”

There’s also new equipment on the wish list. “We’re looking to expand and possibly get a mill-turn machine,” says Igl. “The main reason for that is we want to better align with EPTAM’s other production facilities and they have mill-turn machines.”