Titanium alloys are as strong as steel at about half the weight, making them ideal materials for building advanced military aircraft like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. But before titanium could be fully integrated into aircraft manufacture, methods had to be found to efficiently cool the cutting tools.
In 2007, Creare, a New Hampshire based engineering firm, received an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to find a new way to cool machining tools. Instead of the traditional “flood cooling” method, which used harmful chemicals, Creare developed a way to run liquid nitrogen directly through the machine spindle and tool. Today, Lockheed Martin is using the cryogenic machining technology to cut titanium F-35 parts, significantly increasing efficiency and lowering costs.
Creare’s cryogenic machining technology is just one of many successful innovations enabled by the US Air Force’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For more information, visit afsbirsttr.com.
The Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC), one of the largest flight simulation test facilities in the world, is home to a host of rotating machinery—most notably the equipment that drives Arnold’s five active wind tunnels. Those tunnels, used for a wide variety of testing and evaluation procedures, are activated on an unpredictable schedule, increasing the need for solutions that automatically monitor system health on an ongoing basis. Working with AEDC officials under a series of Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts, Mechanical Solutions Incorporated (MSI) developed software that can continuously monitor sensors on the machinery and identify potential problems before failures occur.
MSI’s SBIR contracts formed the baseline for developing and commercializing the firm’s Sentry™ software—another example of the many successful innovations enabled by the US Air Force’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For more information, visit afsbirsttr.com.
The US Navy seeks a partner to license and commercialize fast-acting, no-HAP paint stripper formulations.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) has developed and tested patent pending paint stripping formulations that are highly effective and do not contain hazardous air pollutants (HAP). NAWCAD research indicated that dichloroethylene (DCE), the key ingredient in the subject paint stripper, operated in a manner similar to legacy products containing methylene chloride and phenol. The Navy’s new formulations work as quickly as legacy products but are completely HAP free.
Various EPA and OSHA regulations have led the US military to implement a variety of chemical and non-chemical alternatives to methylene chloride/phenol paint strippers. However, chemical alternatives, such as benzyl alcohol-based paint strippers require long dwell times to be effective, resulting in the release of additional volatile organic chemicals and increasing the cost of maintenance operations. Formulations with hydrogen peroxide have generated concerns about metal corrosion. Non-chemical methods are not viable options on certain coatings and parts. The NAWCAD formulations perform as quickly as legacy products while affording a far greater level of worker safety: DCE’s OSHA 8-hour time-weighted permissible exposure limit (PEL) average concentration (200ppm) is more than 8x greater than methylene chloride (25 ppm).
The Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Lakehurst, NJ, has developed, tested, and patented a high efficiency nozzle that atomizes water with 80% less water pressure and is adaptable to other applications where low liquid use is desirable. The US Navy seeks a partner to license and commercialize the firefighting nozzle.