Three Wilmington companies have had their exporting privileges suspended for 180 days by the U.S. Commerce Department due to accusations of security violations, according to a press release this week.
The companies: Quicksilver Manufacturing Inc., Rapid Cut LLC and U.S. Prototype Inc., received a Temporary Denial Order (TDO) from the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security for “unauthorized export to China of technical drawings and blueprints used to 3-D print satellite, rocket and defense-related prototypes,” the release stated.
The companies use the same mailing address at 8209 Market St. and are described by the TDO as companies specializing in fabrication and metalworking, including 3D printing, injection molding and laser-cut sheet metal prototypes.
According to the TDO, the Office of Export Enforcement was alerted by a U.S. aerospace and global defense tech company of an export-control violation committed by a third-party supplier. The violation involved the unauthorized export of controlled satellite technology to China.
“Without their customers’ advance consent or knowledge, these drawings were provided to manufacturers in China to 3D-print the items without the required U.S. Government authorizations,” the release explained.
In 2017, satellite parts were ordered from Quicksilver and as part of the transaction, the defense tech company provided about a dozen technical drawings and 3D graphic/computer drawing files to be used to manufacture a prototype space satellite. When the order fulfilled by Quicksilver was received by the company, the shipment identified Quicksilver as having an address in China, meaning the prototype was shipped from abroad.
“No export license had been sought or obtained for this transaction,” the TDA stated.
The TDA lists another similar violation from Rapid Cut, under which US Prototype does business as according to bank account information.
Efforts to reach Quicksilver and Rapid Cut for comments were not successful as of publishing time.
“Outsourcing 3D printing of space and defense prototypes to China harms U.S. national security,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod said in the release. “By sending their customers’ technical drawings and blueprints to China, these companies may have saved a few bucks—but they did so at the collective expense of protecting U.S. military technology.”
According to the release, TDOs are some of the most significant civil sanctions that the Bureau of Industry and Security can issue. In addition to its ability to export, the sanction also cuts off the companies’ ability to receive or participate in exports from the U.S.
Customers of the companies are encouraged to “review their records to determine whether intellectual-property or export-controlled technology was provided and/or potentially compromised.”
Quicksilver Manufacturing and Rapid Cut can appeal the TDO by filling a full-written statement and US Prototype can appeal its inclusion as a related company.