CoorsTek is not your next-generation brewery. It might have the same lineage, but the company gets its buzz instead from producing technical ceramics, precision-machined metals, and engineered plastics. Once a part of the Adolph Coors Company (now MillerCoors), its products are used in the aerospace, automotive, medical, defense, food and beverage, oil and gas, power generation, semiconductor, and telecom industries, among others. The company has focused on research and acquisitions to build its expertise in engineered ceramics and components. CoorsTek operates some 44 facilities on four continents. It was taken private by CEO John Coors and his family in 2003.
CoorsTek has evolved from the original Colorado manufacturing plant where the seamless aluminum beer can was invented and produced, to developing materials only a scientist could love for a host of niche markets. Products for fuel cells (ceramic tubes, planar substrates), chemical and scientific labware (mortars and pestles, crucibles, and dishes), power generation (ceramic brick linings, electron tube components), and optical components (sintered silicon carbide, aluminum oxide ceramics) are among its highly specialized components. CoorsTek also makes diamond grinding wheels, ceramics for semiconductor wafer processing equipment, and plastic bearings and bushings. It offers materials testing, analytical chemistry, and precision machining, among other services.
Research and development is vital to driving CoorsTek's ultra-high material development and processing capabilities. The company ramped up development of its ceramic armor product line for the defense market. Subsidiary CoorsTek Armor Solutions specializes in making lightweight integrated armor panels for ground vehicles, air, and marine crafts.
The company also uses acquisitions to add capacity and expertise. In 2011 CoorsTek bought the advanced ceramics division of Saint-Gobain for about $245 million, significantly expanding its technical capabilities and geographic reach. The acquisition made CoorsTek one of the largest technical ceramics manufacturers in the world. It added product lines such as silicon carbide ceramic blends used in ignition systems, silicon nitride for durable bearings, steatite for electrical appliances, and mullite used in molten metal filtration. It also added manufacturing facilities in Brazil, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the US, along with a number of sales offices across Asia.
Then in 2012 the company bought Germany-based ANCeram, which manufactures ceramic substrates, insulators, and structural components. Most known for its custom-designed aluminum nitride ceramic, ANCeram also uses other materials and techniques, such as silicon nitrides, brazing, and ceramic metallization, among others. The acquisition expands CoorsTek's production capabilities and brings in a third facility in Germany.
CoorsTek has also used acquisitions to expand further into industrial components for precision machinery. In 2010 the company bought UK-based Flowguard, which specializes in hydro-pneumatic pressure vessels -- including pulsation dampeners, suction stabilizers, and surge absorbers -- used in underwater oil and gas, food and beverage, chemical, and pharmaceutical applications.
In addition to acquisitions, CoorsTek continues to grow through strategic alliances. In 2009 CoorsTek and GL&V Pulp & Paper Group (part of GL&V Inc.) signed an agreement for GL&V to sell and service CoorsTek ceramic components to the global pulp and paper industry. Later that year, CoorsTek formed a JV called EmiSense Technologies with Innovate! Technology. EmiSense makes advanced emissions sensors for automotive and industrial applications.
CoorsTek dates back to 1910, when Adolph Coors invested in the Herold China and Pottery Co., a manufacturer of oven-safe porcelain. The business was renamed Coors Porcelain in 1920 and gradually expanded into technological applications. The company was part of Coors' 1992 spin off of ACX Technologies (now Graphic Packaging), and later broke from ACX Technologies to be rechristened CoorsTek in 2000. – less