SIFCO in 100 Years

SIFCO produced heat dissipation shields for special electronic assembles used on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

SIFCO produced heat dissipation shields for special electronic assembles used on the space shuttle Columbia. (Image Courtesy of NASA)

One way of looking at what SIFCO might look like when it celebrates its bicentennial in 2113 might be to look at the past.

SIFCO came into being in 1913, just ten years after the Wright Brothers flew the first successful lighter-than-air craft. The brilliant younger brother Orville once stated, “No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris . . . [because] no known motor can run at the requisite speed for four days without stopping.”

Nonetheless, Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris nonstop in 33 1/2 hours in 1927. As of SIFCO’s centennial in 2013, commercial jets that use SIFCO forgings fly the same route—with hundreds of passengers on board—in seven and three-quarter hours; and military jets using SIFCO forgings fly much faster than that.

So SIFCO decided to turn to an expert whose job lends itself to speculating on aerospace in a hundred years. George Gliba, a native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a village in the Greater Cleveland area, began his career observing the sky—and what is in it—when he was serving as an aerospace control land warning operator in the United States Air Force from 1969 to 1973.

Forty years later, as of the SIFCO centennial, Mr. Gliba is a contractor employee of Syneren Technologies Corporation for the NASA/GSFC (National Aeronautical and Space Flight Administration/Goddard Space Flight Center), where he has worked since 1979. Currently a senior technical specialist for the astrophysics science division, George Gliba still studies and thinks about outer space, and space flight, and the future.

“What might SIFCO’s primary business—the aerospace industry—look like in 100 years?” SIFCO asked Mr. Gliba.

“I think the big change will be commercialization of spaceflight for entertainment, and exploration of the solar system for science and industry using robots and humans,” Gliba responded. “Also, probably a colony or two on the moon, Mars and a few asteroids.”

Why put humans on asteroids—what “National Geographic” called “rocky remains from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago”?

Astronaut James B. Irwin, Lunar Module pilot, works at the Lunar Roving Vehicle.

Astronaut James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot, works at the lunar roving vehicle. Will mining an asteroid be in our future?  (Image Courtesy of NASA)

“Asteroids in particular will be mined for their valuable metals and other raw materials, mostly for space colonies, but also for use on Earth,” replied Gliba. “It will be similar to the vision that G. K. O’Neill [the late professor of physics at Princeton University] had in the early 1970s for the future, except that there will probably be less large populations on space colonies than he envisioned, and more commercialization and2 pioneer exploration.”

If one takes Mr. Gliba’s views seriously—and given his longevity at the prestigious space organization, it would be difficult not to—what could those possibilities hold in store for a forging company? After all, forging is an ancient art. What role could it play in deep space or on asteroids, for that matter?

SIFCO Sales Manager Ian Murray said, “While it’s impossible to predict where SIFCO solutions will find themselves in the next 100 years, one thing is certain—when customers need mission-critical structural and system components, they can rely on SIFCO to provide the highly engineered solutions that meet or exceed the customers’ needs.”

Mike Lipscomb, CEO of SIFCO, looked at the question of what the future holds for SIFCO philosophically, yet practically, too. “Just as the blacksmith—forge—process has been a big part of industry and our everyday life for over 2,000 years, it will travel into space with us as we build our colonies and industrial sites. SIFCO, as a leading aerospace provider, will carry that tradition to our solar system and beyond in the next 100 years.”

SIFCO played a critical and important role throughout the world in its first 100 years of existence. They were years marked by an industrial revolution, a profound evolution in transportation, two world wars and conflicts in every area of the globe. SIFCO innovated in energy—oil, gas, electric and in any product that needed the superior strength of forgings.

It is easy to imagine that the world will still require unique solutions to its engineered products that will fit perfectly into SIFCO’s strengths of manufacturing forgings in small volumes, with intricate shapes and exotic materials.

We at SIFCO are very proud of our heritage and excited about our future.