Sunday, 06 January 2013 by Grayson Edds
Harvest Technologies, located in the Belton Business Park at 815 Kirkley Drive, has been an important local industry since they opened their doors back in 1995.
The company specializes in manufacturing prototypes for a wide array of industries, as well as the production of aerospace parts for commercial and military applications.
While Harvest engages in several different manufacturing processes, the two most prominent and prevalent are Stereolithography (SL) and Laser Sintering (LS).
Stereolithography utilizes an ultraviolet (UV) laser to solidify a liquid resin layer-upon-layer until the part is built in its entirety.
The second process is of the same concept, but instead of liquid epoxy and an ultraviolet laser, the machine uses nylon based powders and a CO2 heat laser.
Both of these processes fall under the umbrella of additive manufacturing. Sometimes referred to as 3D printing, this technologically advanced form of manufacturing allows parts to be built directly from 3D computer models without the constraints of traditional methods such as CNC machining or injection molding, where tooling and assembly would be required.
"Think of building the ship inside the bottle layer by layer," said owner David K. Leigh.
Because the pieces require little to no assembly and the materials produced are lightweight and durable, engineers find these processes very attractive methods of production.
"It allows aeronautic engineers who design planes to be able to use heavier pieces where necessary," Leigh said. "Airplanes and helicopters are only able to lift so much weight. By using lightweight materials that we create, they're able to concentrate that weight on other areas of the plane including gun mounts, emergency equipment or to haul more cargo."
Harvest had simple beginnings, as most businesses do, but has been a part of the Temple/Belton community for quite some time. Over the years, they've grown to employ approximately 75 people, four of them are engineers including owners David K. and father David E. Leigh, as well as roughly 30 professional staff.
When it comes to hiring their employees, Leigh said that they prefer to hire locally instead of nationally.
"We like to hire locally over nationally because we want people who are dedicated and interested in the area and the Belton community," said Leigh.
Harvest also works closely with the internship programs of several universities including the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Baylor and Texas A&M.
It's only been two years since Harvest moved into their current location, and the company has plans to add new capabilities to its in-house services.
This Spring they will launch 5-axis computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining and will begin offering laser sintered metals late next year.
These two additions will provide a variety of new applications for Harvest's customers and will serve as the springboard for further development and research in additive metals technology.
"CNC machining differs from our additive manufacturing processes. Instead of creating a part layer by layer, the machine will essentially engage in a deductive process and carve the part out of a billet of metal stock," said Leigh. "While it is a more traditional manufacturing method, CNC machining is a vital market it the prototype industry, and it will also serve as an auxiliary component of the laser sintered metals process."
Even with all of the expansion that the company has been able to do over the years, and the expansions that they look forward to in the future, Harvest Technologies has no plans to leave Belton.
"The question I always get is, 'Why Belton?' and the answer is, 'Why not?'" said Leigh. "We're from here. We like it here. And with today's technology we don't have to be in large cities to be successful."