B&B's Ken Curtis: Climbing every high point in America

On an average day, Ken Curtis will most likely be in his office in Valencia at B&B Manufacturing, where he works as an engineering manager.  When he leaves the technology and plane parts behind, Curtis heads home to be with his wife of 29 years, Amy. On the weekends, he answers his phone only after completing some landscape work in his backyard and he enjoys watching the occasional Dodgers game.

At first appearance he is a well put together family man with an established career, but if you take a closer look, you will see that he is holding a list of elevations and mountain names. Curtis has spent the last 10 years climbing the highest points throughout the United States, logging every peak and high point of each state, also known as "peak bagging". According to Summitpost.org, only 273 people are recorded to have reached the highest points in all 50 states in America and Curtis hopes to join them.

Ken Curtis on summit of Denali in Alaska

In 2007, Curtis received an invitation to summit Mount Whitney, the tallest point in California, from the vice president of B&B Manufacturing.That climb would become his first "bagged" peak and he has been climbing state high points ever since. "The president and vice president of the company have been on the top of a few of these state high points with me," said Curtis when expressing how supportive his work colleagues have been of his peak bagging.

Ken Curtis on summit of Mount Hood, Oregon

From Britton Hill in Florida, the lowest of the 50, to Denali in Alaska the highest point in North America, Curtis has climbed 49 of them. However, not every climb has been a walk in the park. Curtis recalls of a time when he was forced to descend after climbing in elevation too quickly and began to develop a high altitude pulmonary edema, or HAPE, an altitude sickness that can be deadly if not immediately treated.

Other times, Curtis has turned back from his attempts to summit because of bad weather or if something "didn’t feel right." Part of the reason his wife fully supports the endeavor is because she can be sure he will walk away from a risky situation, a necessary ability for all mountain climbers.

Ken Curtis boards a plane on Denali in Alaska

On February 27, 2018, his 50th birthday, Curtis will attempt to summit Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii – the final state on the list. He hopes to complete his 10 year mission at elevation 13,802, the highest point in Hawaii with friends and family by his side. Curtis will hike up six miles and ascend 4500 feet on Mauna Kea and expects it to take four hours.

"I'm hoping that the weather is such that my wife and kids are able to meet me on the summit, they'll just drive up there and meet me when I get to the top," said Curtis.

While he does not have a plan on what to do next once he has bagged all 50 high points in the United States, he is toying with the idea of completing the "Seven Summits" of which includes the tallest mountain in the world- Mount Everest.

Ken Curtis on top of Granite Peak, Montana

Reprinted from The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

B&B gets ready for the future of Additive Manufacturing

Last week, B&B sent an engineering team to the RAPID Expo in Detroit, Michigan. This is an event which showcases the latest 3D printing processes and is a key to increasing our knowledge of the current state-of-the-art of additive manufacturing. This year, we were pleased to see that the show was 50% larger than in 2013. About 150 companies were on-hand and, even better, there were far fewer hobby or personal 3d printer exhibitors and more presentations directly related to large scale manufacturing.

One of the additive manufacturing technologies we were investigating was Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). This technique uses a laser to sinter powdered metal, layer by layer, into a finished, solid structure. Typically, inside the build chamber a build platform is recoated with new material after a laser moves through the cross-section. The focused beam melts the powder locally and builds up a layers only micrometers thick allowing for complex geometries which would be difficult to achieve with conventional subtractive manufacturing techniques.

We spoke with six system manufacturers, evaluated their processes and learned about design challenges, processes, capabilities and best practices in this fairly new field. Some of the more interesting technology advancements were:

3D Systems

New “compression” technology compresses the media layer just prior to sintering. This is said to improve the “realized” resolution of the sintered for while allowing unsintered media to provide greater support, reducing structural support needed by other techniques. They also showed off the addition of a secondary loading chamber on their high-end ProX 300.


They were a newcomer but were the first to present a system which employs both additive and subtractive technology in one platform. We found ourselves pondering some issues with the process such as part movement related to tooling pressures, chamber environment control, media contamination from chips and output integrity from chips being refused. Overall, this was an interesting solution and we will be interested in seeing how it evolves.


Having recognized a need to inspect printed features which cannot be seen with the naked eye, Nikon has integrated their x-ray technology with their scanning technology. Just brilliant!

Overall, the current use of additive techniques for metallic outputs is still heavily focused on medical and dental industries or one-off prototypes. One system distributor put it well,

“Old school design engineers are having difficulty breaking away from their “xy” ways of thinking, and therefore are very skeptical to venture into this new technology… Furthermore, the ability to control material properties is no longer an issue, and they need to see that! Thankfully the new generation of engineers have an innate ability to see the advantages, quickly adopt new ways of thinking, and are beginning to influence the “in place” ways of thinking – large scale adoption is only a matter of time.”

It is still early days with additive manufacturing but the potential of these technologies is immense and the number of solutions is growing. In past years, we had to find the few exhibitors who were showcasing this technology. This year, it was hard to find an exhibitor who was not and it was encouraging to see so many companies promoting metallic printing capabilities.

B&B Manufacturing Sponsors Hart District Robotics Team


For Immediate Release
September 17, 2012
CONTACT: Jeff Lage, 661-294-6135
B&B Manufacturing
27940 Beale Court
Valencia, CA 91355


B&B Manufacturing Sponsors Hart District Robotics Team

VALENCIA, CA—B&B Manufacturing, a world-class provider of manufacturing solutions to the aerospace, military and automotive industries, recently sponsored the Hart District Robotics team. As a proud co-sponsor, B&B provided both financial and material assistance.

“B&B’s sponsorship of Team 691 has helped us tremendously,” said Matthew Smalley, Student President of Hart District Robotics. “B&B supplied many of the materials for our robot at no cost to team 691.  This enabled us to develop, and complete our design both on time and in budget.  In addition to materials, B&B gave several of our team members a very inspirational tour, showing us how a real-life manufacturing facility works, and the high-tech jobs that programs like ours lead to.”
Asked about the Southern California Manufacturing Group, Smalley replied, “B&B helped our team significantly as well by introducing us to the SCMG, whose generous and timely sponsorship gave us significant funds,which we could spend quickly, letting us order quality parts with enough time for them to arrive and be fully incorporated into the robot.  These sponsorships make programs like ours possible, and help introduce students throughout our valley to science, technology, engineering, and the future they can have with high-tech companies like B&B Manufacturing.”
Hart District Robotics is the first robotics team made up of students from Hart High School, Academy of the Canyons, and West Ranch High School--all located in the Santa Clarita Valley. Originally founded in 2000 at Hart High School, the Hart team has expanded to a district-wide program that is open to all high school students in the William S. Hart Union High School District. 
Hart Robotics seeks to promote education in science and technology through an exciting, student-led, mentor-guided, high school robotics team.  The program emphasizes teamwork, self confidence, gracious professionalism and leadership. It demonstrates the value of individual diversity, combined creativity, and positive achievements both in the program and society in general.
“Both B&B Manufacturing and SCMG place a high value on working with education to promote manufacturing in the USA,” said B&B President Jeff Lage. “We need to ensure that we continue to drive interest, education and talent to keep manufacturing alive in the USA.”
In 2011, the first Hart Robotics Competition was held at the Long Beach and San Jose Regional tournaments.
B&B Manufacturing is a leading provider of machined components, sub-assemblies and contract manufacturing services, serving Aerospace, Semi-Conductor, Automotive Racing, and General Aviation markets.  B&B employs over 210 people in the Valencia, CA facility just 35 miles north of Los Angeles off Interstate 5.


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