How one Rapid City tech company is changing the game on repairing metal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) – “It is a game-changing technology when it comes down to parts that really need to be repaired versus a new manufacturer,” says Rob Hrabe, CEO and co-founder of VRC Metal Systems.

VRC Metal Systems produce a cold spray, better known as supersonic particle deposition. It is a high-energy solid-state coating powder solution used to seal cracks and holes in metals, metal alloys, and metal blends.

Hrabe says this solution is a game changer

“You cannot buy parts for a Model T for example so, it really gives you an opportunity,” Hrabe explained. “Same thing for a lot of components that are hard to take off; for example a shaft on a propeller on a big ship. It costs a lot of money to take that off. If you can repair it, you can save a ton of money.”

The robot costs more than $900,000 and is responsible for making repairs, using an arm that can reach tight areas of aircraft, tanks, and trucks.

Kris Klus, project manager for VRC, manages a variety of company projects with the Department of Defense. He says the cold spray helps companies impacted by global supply chain issues.

“This robot allows us to take our process … it takes it out of the lab, puts it on the runway, puts it in a forward operating base,” Klus said. “It allows us to do repairs on vehicles rather than having to disassemble the vehicle, take parts off of it, ship it, take it to a facility that has cold spray available. It is more efficient and reduces supply chain issues and restrictions. It gives them the opportunity to do rapid repairs to get vehicles and assets released and back into service as quickly as possible.”

VRC is working on a 2022 expansion of their current building on North Ellsworth Road. A sister company, Heartland Repair and Coatings, will relocate from the Deadwood Avenue location to the Ellsworth site. The expansion is expected to be done by the end of September.

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