VRC Metal Systems Participated in the Letterkenny Army Depot Cold Spray Demonstration on February 9th

VRC Metal Systems, a leading developer of advanced cold spray technologies, recently participated in a major cold spray demonstration at the Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD). LEAD is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair, and modifications for thousands of military systems and vehicles. Over 20 members of the Department of Defense, private industry, and academia converged at LEAD to show off the latest technological advancements in cold spray. Cold spray has been used for years in the DOD, but the purpose of the February 9th demonstration was to focus on the robotic and mobile cold spray capabilities of the future, as well as the versatility of the systems. VRC Metal Systems worked with DEVCOM-ARL, Northeastern University, and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center to develop a specific mobile cold spray system that would address every need LEAD has or might have.

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The system features two trailers, one with the generator and the other with gas compression, storage, and maneuverable cart. This system is able to be dropped almost anywhere in the world while containing everything you would need to perform cold spray services; compressor, storage, metal powders, robotic arm, cold spray system, spray equipment, dust collector, and more. The advancements in cold spray, as well as the development of this portable system, will allow the DOD and Army to efficiently and cost effectively repair and maintain weapons platforms, systems, and vehicles. VRC Metal Systems was able to collaborate with industry leaders to create a state of the art system for the DOD. VRC Metal Systems enjoyed every second of the opportunity to show the DOD and the world what they are capable of and provide a solid solution that will be used for years to come. 

This news comes in the wake of many recent major accomplishments for VRC Metal Systems, including:


Our Vision

To be the global leader in cold spray and development of advanced manufacturing technologies and applications to provide the greatest value to our customers.

Our Mission

Provide reliable metals deposition technologies, innovation solutions, and manufactured components to give our customers an unparalleled edge in the markets in which they operate.

Our History

In 2007, Rob Hrabe retired from the Air Force after 22 years of service. He started HF Webster Engineering Services to commercialize promising metal deposition and repair technologies from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T). In 2010, Rob helped recruit Dr. Christian Widener to take over the director position of the Arbegast Materials Processing and Joining Laboratory at SDSM&T, and together they began investigating repair technologies for the Department of Defense and cold spray in particular.

In 2011, working with the Army Research Laboratory, they began developing a hand-held high-pressure cold spray system and applied for a patent through SDSM&T in 2012. Both Widener and Hrabe participated in developing the patent under funding from the Army Research Lab with collaborators Victor Champagne and Dennis Helfritch. VRC Metal Systems, LLC was then founded in January 2013 after obtaining an exclusive license to commercialize the patent-pending cold spray technology. VRC licensed the patent after a joint ownership agreement between the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and the Army Research Laboratory was completed. In 2018, VRC Metal Systems acquired HF Webster Engineering Services, LLC as a fully-owned subsidiary.

VRC developed the system to provide agile, high-quality repairs in DoD weapon systems for the warfighter at military bases and forward operating locations. Hence, the system’s hand-held capability and mobility were essential design features. Two specific components identified for such a need were equipment access panels and hydraulic lines on the B-1 bomber. Since that time, VRC has developed the commercial and DoD system and has expanded its offerings to include complete turn-key cold spray systems, including additive and subtractive methods. VRC also remains heavily involved in developing cold spray and advanced manufacturing solutions for the Department of Defense and commercial clients. 

Because of our early successes, VRC Metal Systems: 

  • tied for 1st place in the South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision business competition, 
  • was awarded the Black Hills Start-up of the Year in 2015, 
  • was named by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer as one of the top 40 university start-ups in 2017, 
  • and was ranked #413 on the Inc. 500 list in 2017, #659 on the Inc. 500 list in 2018, and #872 in 2019.

VRC is a strong company that is increasing and leading the U.S. cold spray market. While the development of repair applications is on-going in aerospace and defense, the company is expanding its technologies to a growing number of commercial entities for use in both industrial repair and innovative advanced manufacturing process applications. VRC is also expanding into the global cold spray market and is active in international cold spray venues and standards development.

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