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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Local industry: Technifab Products, Inc.

Friday, October 3, 2003

When most people hear "cryogenics," they think frozen bodies. Walt Disney was (falsely) rumored to be frozen, as were other celebrities.

Technifab Products, Inc. has been in the business of selling cryogenic equipment for over ten years, though they don't have any part in the freezing of humans.

"I don't think any of our clients even do that," TPI President Steve Short said. "Cryogenic products have many applications, though."

Formed in 1992, TPI has been serving businesses that range everywhere from food service to health care. The original founders, Noel Short and Brian Deacons (of Spun Metals) opened up shop in the area Spun Metals currently operates. The company moved around a few times before finally purchasing some land east of Brazil in 1995, establishing themselves as the first business in Brazil's then-newly-formed Industrial Park. Deacons eventually sold his stock and opened Spun Metals.

Since that time, they have expanded twice (in 1997 and 2001), making their total indoor size 43,000 square feet.

Their "niche," as Short puts it, is custom cryogenic equipment. They manufacture a number of items related to the cryogenic industry, ranging from dewars (containers) to transfer tubing to custom pieces.

"Almost all of what we do is custom," Short said. "Like the transfer hoses. We cut them to certain lengths. They can be up to 100 feet long."

Short continued that the dewars are considered their standard items.

The company's product is mostly used in the transfer of extremely cold liquids, namely nitrogen and helium. These substances are extremely versatile, Short says, and are used in a number of ways. Liquid helium, for example, is used to cool magnets utilized in MRI machines. Ntirogen can be used as a pressurizer for non-carbonated beverages, such as iced tea and juice, and is also used in food processing.

"They also use nitrogen in metal molding," Short said. "It's called 'flashing.' When someone gets done molding metals, there are imperfections. They roll the item around in nitrogen and the imperfections go away."

"A lot of what goes on" at TPI, according to Short, is welding. They employ a number of machines and humans to weld products together to exacting standards. He motioned to a dewar, pointing out the welding lines.

"If there's even one tiny hole there, something small enough for a molecule to get through, the product fails," he said. "We have a lot of skilled workers and machines welding here. Welding is critical to the success of our product."

Nitrogen boils at negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit, and helium does so at negative 215 degrees Fahrenheit, making it potentially very dangerous. Short notes that while these chemicals are on the TPI site for testing purposes, they only deal in products related to transporting them.

Short referred to the MRI example, saying that the industry for refilling the machines is "huge." TPI products come in during this transportation, be they hoses, dewars, or other items.

TPI hires 47 employees, including fabricators, welders, and shipping specialists. This figure does not include "office" workers, such as cad techs and engineers, who design the original products.

"It's a great place to work," Short said. "It really is."

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