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Dayton startup purchases 32,000-square-foot manufacturing plant

SKULD LLC 3D printed technology

A foundry and manufacturing facility closed more than five years ago will reopen with the operation of a growing Dayton-area startup. With operation to begin later this spring, the startup is preparing to launch a new system with plans to expand capacity and employment over the next few years.

Skuld LLC is set to open a new foundry and manufacturing facility in the former Champion Foundry at 918 S. Main St. in Piqua. Founded by two metallurgic engineers, Mark DeBruin and Sarah Jordan, Skuld is focused on innovation in the metals industry with the creation of new metal manufacturing processes.

The four-building site Skuld recently purchased contains nearly 32,000 square feet of space, will be refurbished to be capable of casting a wide range of ferrous metals (gray, ductile iron and steels) as well as nonferrous metals (aluminum, brass, bronze, copper and nickel alloys).

The plant will initially have 3,000 tons of capacity but plans are in place to expand to ten times that capacity in the next few years. Renovations have already begun following Skuld closing on the site last week. Production casting at the new site is scheduled to begin in April.

Jordan said Skuld currently employs four workers and additional hires will depend on scaling in 2024. While she forecasts more than doubling their current workforce, Jordan said it could be far more significant as Skuld is “already quoting several times higher than this year’s forecast.”

Jordan said the location was chosen after an extensive search in various states (Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee) for a site with the unique combination of high power, building infrastructure and building square footage. 

“As this site had a similar use to what we are planning to do it met our needs despite needing some work,” Jordan said. “In addition, the supportive nature of the local and county governments was also important.”

Skuld’s 2024 pipeline

DeBruin and Jordan have a number of innovations related to novel materials and manufacturing technologies.

Skuld primarily uses lost foam casting. The company is patent pending new hybrid process that combines lost foam casting with 3D printing so they can eliminate tooling while having the capability of quickly producing components. They are also installing machining, foam blowing, a printer farm and heat treating. 

The company primarily serves the defense, tooling and heavy equipment industries. In addition to parts, they also manufacture equipment for others to use their processes. Skuld’s new nanofoundry system, the Lightning Metal, is in development and launching this spring.

Jordan said Skuld has a lot going on in 2024, in addition to the new site and launching Lightning Metal.

Skuld is working on tooling and parts for several customers, helping a vehicle customer redesign brake calipers for light-weighting for fuel efficiency and designing a rapidly deployable bridge system for the Marines. The startup is also kicking off research with Oak Ridge National Laboratory as part of their Innovation Crossroads program in order to improve the efficiency of Skuld’s process.

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