PRLog - Sep. 2, 2014 - BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -- The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has issued a Phase 1 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract to VEXTEC. The focus of the program is on advanced forging manufacturing innovations. The contract is for $100,000 and will run for nine months. If the Phase 1 program is successful, it may lead to a significantly larger Phase 2 program.
Simulated difference in durability between original part and replacement part
A major issue confronting the Department of Defense (DoD) and DLA in particular is to obtain parts needed today which are difficult to find or stock and have high cost or lead times. Jim Jenkins of NavAir’s Aging Aircraft Public Affairs office attributes the difficulties to multiple causes; 1) Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and vendors stop production or are out of business, 2) OEMs and vendors are unwilling to produce limited quantities, 3) OEM cannot meet schedule requirements, 4) manufacturing documentation is proprietary or does not exist, 5) purchase cost is unacceptable, 6) the item was never provisioned as a spare part.
DLA seeks drastically lower unit costs of forged spare parts support through manufacturing revolutions that also have applicability to low or high volume production from commercial sales. This will result in an improvement in the affordability of these innovations to DLA and its customers and the development of cost effective methods to sustain existing defense systems while potentially impacting the next generation of defense systems.
The goal of this SBIR program is to develop computational durability software that can be used by manufacturers to simulate the durability of replacement parts for the original forgings. The replacements could include parts machined simplified forged blocks, hand forgings, bar stock or plate. The material could be the same as the original forging or a new more durable alloy or heat treatment. Alcoa, a major supplier of forged products, will work with VEXTEC to assure the outcome of this SBIR will be a viable commercial software product. The software will significantly lower unit costs of forged spare parts by reducing the high barrier to entry caused by the current certification test requirements. More vendors will be in the market because with this software they will be able to cost effectively determine if their manufacturing process will produce a product with sufficient reliability. OEMs will be able to determine if new, less costly processes (or vendors) will provide a reliable product. The DoD and other fleet owners, such as commercial airlines, will be able to determine if a replacement part will meet their durability need. The manufactures of the next generation of defense systems will optimize the forging process to provide the residual stress and material microstructure for the highest reliability at the lowest cost. A computational material durability simulation software that offers the ability to complete most of the component validation process with limited testing, will create a sea change in material science much the way FEA changed structural design.
VEXTEC (http://www.vextec.com) was founded in 2000 and has developed its patented technology primarily through Department of Defense Small Business Innovative Research programs. VEXTEC offers its Virtual Life Management software and services to a variety of commercial and government customers.
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