Our 100 years of H.C. Starck Solutions campaign is gradually ending, but we have celebrated several our prestigious plants and facilities throughout 2020. We have spotlighted the many successes of our Hermsdorf facility in Germany, and Euclid in Ohio – to name just a few. It has been an excellent opportunity to focus on the numerous technical breakthroughs that have occurred at H.C. Starck Solutions over the years.
This month, we are exploring the history of our Coldwater plant in Michigan, which has been the workplace of technical innovators with a focus on precision molybdenum products for almost sixty years.
A Brief History of the Coldwater Plant
Coldwater initially belonged to AMAX; an entity comprising American Metal Company, Ltd and Climax Molybdenum Company Inc. During the 1950s, Climax started researching the development of a molybdenum arc casting process to support US Naval demand for large molybdenum workpieces for Polaris missiles. Both pure and alloyed molybdenum parts were required. The Climax Molybdenum Company was established in 1958 and the 12,000 square foot (1100m2) Coldwater site was purchased to support this research. In the same year, the world’s first molybdenum arc casting equipment was installed.
Innovation never stopped at the Coldwater plant. In 1962, the facility was expanded to enable production of molybdenum powders – and again in 1966 to allow for round and flat molybdenum workpieces.
The Climax Molybdenum Company (AMAX) expanded in 1972, purchasing the Euclid, Ohio plant before restructuring Coldwater to function as the new facility’s main supplier of pure molybdenum rounds and Mo alloy billets. As part of the general restructuring, Coldwater also started developing iso-press and sinter powder metallurgy processing. Four years later, a historic 5000mt direct extrusion press was installed at Coldwater to complete the new metallurgical workflow.
Decades after commissioning Coldwater’s historic extrusion press in 1993, to be precise – AMAX merged with Cyprus Minerals Company to form the Cyprus/AMAX Minerals company. In the same year, a new isostatic press was purchased from ABB-Sweden. This expansion of physical assets continued as the corporate owners underwent a period of expansion and divestment in 1995 as CSM Industries.
Between 1996 and 1997, Coldwater installed a 16-tube robotic second stage molybdenum reduction furnace and began utilizing rotary kilns for first step reduction. After a brief period as CSM Industries, the Coldwater plant was purchased in its entirety by H.C. Starck GmbH.
Our Coldwater Plant Today
Since purchasing the Coldwater plant in 2000, H.C. Starck has continued to invest in the facility’s tradition of ingenuity in molybdenum manufacturing and catering for emerging applications. We have installed a hammer rotary forge for large diameter glass melting electrodes and molybdenum rods with diameters as small as 1.2in (30mm).
In 2007, we underwent another major expansion with a new large rotary first-step reduction kiln and a second stage robotic furnace, adding 600mt of powder production capacity. With 2,700mt of total powder production capabilities, we believe we were the world’s largest molybdenum producer at that time.
Most recently Coldwater has added capabilities in the growing area of additive manufacturing. Plasma spheroidization capacity has been tripled to support demand for molybdenum and other refractory metal powders. Also, a laser powder-bed fusion printer has been installed to accelerate the in-house development of 3D printed refractory metal parts.
Coldwater has always had a strong focus on growth, and today, encompasses an area of 180,000 square foot (16,700m2). If you would like to learn more about Coldwater, or any of our other sites, simply refer back to our 100 Years of Refractory Metals Expertise page. Or, contact a member of the team directly with any questions.