Rocket Scientists Working to Make Valley ‘Additive’ Hub


Imagine a day when engineers use a 3D printer to create the intricate components and materials of a working airplane. Even with today’s groundbreaking technology, that may seem like a stretch. But at Titan Industries in Tempe, Arizona, engineers are working to make that a reality – in the not-so-distant future.


Founded by Joe Manzo and Brian Vetere – two actual rocket scientists who met at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and later worked together at a global aerospace and defense firm in Chandler – Titan is poised to shake up the manufacturing world.


Manzo and Vetere have unlocked a path to efficient production via electron beam melting additive manufacturing. Translation: They can make complex components for airplanes, rockets or weapons faster, better and cheaper.


To do that, Titan has found the perfect partner in LAI International, a premier global supplier of the aerospace, energy and industrial sectors. LAI, which stands for Leading Advanced Innovations, provides the electron beam melting technology and the office space, and Titan supplies the design and analysis.


The formula goes like this: Come to Titan with a problem and its team will develop a solution whose designs can’t be built by traditional methods. The end result is a faster and cheaper solution to the problem.


The key is Titan’s electron beam machine, which was the first of its model in the U.S. and builds the parts with powdered titanium. Titanium is a durable, strong and light metal, leading to efficiencies in production. If Dustin Hoffman’s character Ben in “The Graduate” was getting one word of advice offered to him in 2016, it might be “titanium” instead of “plastics.”


All of this represents a tremendous opportunity for Arizona to be the “additive” hub, where large aerospace companies will want to do even more business. It also means opportunities for recent graduates in the Valley of the Sun. Titan has begun staffing up and will continue to tap local engineering talent from Arizona.


The young company is always looking for ways to grow and build its brand. Titan was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency. The $150,000 grant, awarded to technology firms with the serious potential to commercialize their products, will be used to advance Titan’s titanium-based manufacturing capabilities in the aerospace and defense sector.


Titan utilized the Arizona Commerce Authority’s SBIR Training program to learn about and successfully apply for the grant, and also has participated in other ACA programs that have helped the company refine its business model, expand its manufacturing expertise and fine-tune its presentation skills, including the RevAZ and “Pitch Perfect” programs.


Before too long, Titan’s products will raise the level of possibility for Arizona’s robust aerospace industry.