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Ann Arbor's Gravikor bets on space age welding tech

Gravikor's new welding technology is so next generation it doesn't look like welding. The Ann Arbor-based startup, which also has a presence in Madison Heights, is commercializing space-age welding technology that is so light and seamless that it looks like the two pieces of metal are glued together.

Delphi developed the technology for use in space frames. It's not commonly used for the frames of NASCAR vehicles, but must be done by hand at a cost of $10,000 per vehicle. Gravikor's technology promises to be done automatically for far less.

"We make the same frame automatically for $5,000," says James Ritcher, principal of Gravikor.

Gravikor is trying to translate this technology to military vehicles and is currently vying for a place in a $9 billion U.S. military program to rehab Humvees. Its welding promises to take 2,000 pounds off a Humvee and make it easier to attach armor plates and lengthen its lifetime by making it stronger and more fuel efficient. "In Army circles, weight is the enemy," Ritcher says.

He expects to hear whether Gravikor has won a place in the Army's program by this spring. The company is also planning to launch a civilian automotive component to its technology at the same time. The idea is to create safer automobiles through stronger roll cages and increase their fuel economy.

Gravikor recently made the finals of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition and is fundraising to commercialize its technology. If it wins the military contract, Ritcher expects the 1-year-old company to expand its staff from half a dozen people to 20-30. He pegs Gravikor's revenue potential at $1.5 billion within five years.

Source: James Ritcher, principal of Gravikor.
Writer: Jon Zemke

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  • Gravikor
    Madison Heights, MI 48071 Website
    Gravikor is commercializing a new welding technology developed by Delphi that will be used in military vehicles. The new welding, normally used for space frames, is lighter and stronger than current welding technology.