Made in the Northwest: Cygnus

Made in the Northwest: Cygnus

It’s a relatively small company in Ponderay, Idaho, but Cygnus, Inc., with its 100 employees, plays no small role in contributing to our country’s defense industry through the manufacture of aerospace parts.

“We manufacture aircraft sheet metal parts and assemblies. Some machine parts,” said Cygnus president Jack Ambrosiani.

We’re talking things like brackets, clips, some gussets, doublers, and largers parts, which are large part assemblies.”

Cygnus’ clients include the big three in aerospace: Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

“We do an awful lot of work for Northrop,” said Ambrosiani. “We’re on the F-35 program, both Northrop and Lockheed, and some commercial work for Boeing through Triumph in Spokane.”

And this is no small operation. Cygnus produces about 300,000 parts a year in about 5,000 often very complex configurations.

The parts typically start from stratch as raw sheet metal. Then, that metal goes into fabrication on CNC mills and routers, which can cut a whole lot of metal at very high speeds.

“The mills, the routers are the backbone. You can’t live without them'” said Ambrosiani.

Many parts are put through a deburring machine to clean up any rough edges and the press brake machine, which bends the metal to a specific angle. But what sets Cygnus apart is that it also does its heat treating and chemical processing in house.

“We basically have three companies in one.”

After going through its heat treat process, the metal parts are “extremely strong and rigid,” said Ambrosiani. “That is necessary for the strength of the aircraft.”

Cygnus’ chemical processing house was the first to be certified by Lockheed Martin. It gives a protective coating to prevent corrosion.

About 80 percent of the parts also require painting with very high quality primers, according to Ambrosiani. “Some are abrasive resistant, some are fluid resistant, some are special for fuel tank coatings.”

Along the way, a FaroArm and Cygnus’ coordinate measuring machine ensure the accuracy needed for the aerospace industry’s stringent specifications. “You couldn’t live without them, because you have to be able to measure down to a thousandth of an inch in various, complex forms,” explained Ambrosiani.

And after nearly 30 years in business, Cygnus plans to keep reinvesting in its company, and its people, while continuing to serve its mission.

“I’m most proud of the team we’ve put together,” said Ambrosiani. “What they’ve contributed, what they’ve contributed to the industry, what they contributed to the defense industry in protecting our country.”

And that’s quite a bit for a small company in North Idaho.