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Minneapolis, MN, United States

Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2010

Grinding is used to satisfy figure and finish requirements for optics, removing successive layers of material to ensure alleviation of any damage created from the prior operation. Consequently, fabrication times are slow and expensive. The optics manufacturing industry currently lacks physics-based models needed to understand the impact of process and material variables on final part quality and costs. As a result, there exists a limited ability to improve these material removal processes. Our goal is to provide high throughput, low cost grinding processes enabled by physics-based modeling for accelerated development of reconnaissance windows. We will advance the physics-based machining models to simulate grinding in ceramics. Our AdvantEdge FEM software will provide the baseline technology to be enhanced for grinding process modeling. Technical objectives include: (1) advancing physics-based machining modeling for grinding of AlON, (2) validating physics-based model and (3) demonstrating process improvements for AlON via simulations. Anticipated results will demonstrate physics-based models to: (1) reduce per part lead times and grinding costs of optical windows by 50%, (2) enable high rate, low cost manufacture of optics, (3) eliminate expensive, time consuming trial-and-error process development, and (4) accelerate the insertion of new optical materials via significant reductions in process development time. BENEFIT: Selection of fabrication method for constructing aerial reconnaissance and airborne sensor windows are tightly coupled with the choice of the materials, the sizes of the optics and desired costs. Considerable resources are spent in making material choices, performing trial-and-error tests, and developing specialized equipment for proving out the product and process design. Insertion of new optical materials is frustrated by the slow pace of process development, thwarting their ability to achieve full potential. In optics manufacturing, the need for better figure and finish for the final surface – along with reduced subsurface damage and per-part costs – imparts special challenges on the grinding process design. Difficulty in observing material removal mechanisms during grinding makes it difficult to understand and control process factors that influence the final part quality. The goal of this project is to develop a first-principles, physics-based modeling approach that will allow for the identification of high-opportunity process operating envelopes and new tooling innovations, which would otherwise not be achieved without expensive, time-consuming trial-and-error approaches. Anticipated long-term benefits of the proposed research will improve the cost and performance of optical systems through improved understanding of material behavior under grinding and reduced process development costs. Commercial and societal benefits of this proposal include increased product performance and reduced manufacturing and maintenance costs for a variety of military and civilian optical systems. Benefits will be realized through: • Reduced component lead times and grinding costs of optical windows via high throughput grinding process • Elimination of expensive, time consuming trial-and-error process development • Process innovation enabled within the industry through validated digital simulation • Utilization of a highly automated, repeatable manufacturing process for a variety of optical materials and applications • Accelerated insertion of new optical materials via significant reductions in process development time • Validated, generalized physics-based models that can be readily applied to a wide range of optical sizes, geometries and materials • Advanced knowledge of material removal mechanisms in optical grinding In addition to the direct commercial benefits to industry, this project will: » Further increase the science and engineering knowledge base in both industry and academia regarding the fundamental relationships between materials, processes, and product quality; and » Remove significant cost barriers that exist when investigating truly innovative manufacturing methods and implementation thereof.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.94K | Year: 2010

This program will demonstrate the feasibility of innovative physics-based modeling of gear hobbing to predict and improve residual stresses and heat treat distortions while reducing production cycle times and costs of transmission gears. TWS will develop a general, validated, physics-based modeling capability for the gear hobbing process, resulting in detailed chip formation and residual stress prediction. This will be achieved through both a detailed finite element modeling of tool-workpiece interaction, and CNC toolpath-level analysis. The combined outputs of these comprehensive models will provide the ability to predict machining-induced residual stresses and their effects on distortion from subsequent heat treatment, and determine interactions between machining process changes and cost, cycle time and workpiece characteristics. Feasibility will be demonstrated by: 1) advancing physics-based machining modeling for gear hobbing processes, 2) developing physics-based gear hobbing predictive models based on finite element modeling, and 3) validating these physics-based models against machining experiments. Anticipated results results of the program will: (1) predict residual stresses, forces, temperatures, and tooling performance for hobbing; (2) improve fatigue life of gear components through residual stress management while reducing cycle times and cost; and (3) advance knowledge of material removal mechanisms in gear hobbing and their effects on post-machining operations.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 600.00K | Year: 2010

Ceramic transmission sensor windows offer advantages over axisymmetric surfaces in the ability to reduce drag and weight. Materials of interest include spinel, polycrystal alumina, and AlON. However, the description, fabrication and metrology of these surfaces can be costly, or even impossible. Fabrication of these surfaces is difficult, since they are not axisymmetric and can have varying local radii of curvature, rendering grinding, lapping and polishing of these surfaces untenable. A method to overcome these difficulties in fabrication is to apply ductile mode machining (DMM) to eliminate grinding, lapping and polishing. DMM has been successfully applied to spinel, AlON and sapphire in Phase I. Through the use of physics-based modeling, DMM conditions can be identified where material removal results in ductile chip formation, damage free surfaces and excellent surface finish. This SBIR activity extends the technology of DMM to transmission optical materials enabled by physics-based modeling technology. We will further develop and enhance its modeling capability for application to spinel workpieces. In Phase II we will demonstrate DMM of a spinel lens and perform the requisite metrology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2008

Conformal sensor windows offer advantages over axisymmetric surfaces in the ability to reduce drag and weight. Materials of interest include spinel, polycrystal alumina, and ALON. However, the description, fabrication and metrology of these surfaces can be costly, or even impossible. Fabrication of these surfaces is difficult, since they are not axisymmetric and can have varying local radii of curvature, rendering grinding, lapping and polishing of these surfaces untenable. A method to overcome these difficulties in fabrication is to apply ductile mode machining (DMM) to eliminate grinding, lapping and polishing. DMM has been successfully applied to SiC mirror and Infrasil 302 glass transmission surfaces to achieve the requisite surface finish and figure error for axis-symmetric optics. Through the use of physics-based modeling, DMM conditions can be identified where material removal results in ductile chip formation, damage free surfaces and excellent surface finish. This SBIR activity extends the technology of DMM to torroidal configurations enabled by physics-based modeling technology. We will further develop and enhance its modeling capability for application to spinel workpieces. In Phase I we will demonstrate the feasibility of DMM to machine a spinel torroidal window in a laboratory environment with Breault performing the requisite metrology.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project, Gear Hobbing Predictive Model, will develop and demonstrate innovative physics-based modeling of gear machining processes the Navy needs to predict and improve residual stresses and related distortions, as well as reduce production cycle times and costs of transmission gears. Through targeted technology development, Third Wave Systems (TWS) will demonstrate a 35-50 percent reduction in gear machining time and cost without the need for additional capital equipment investment. This will be achieved through the advancement and application of both a detailed finite element modeling (FEM) of the tool-workpiece interaction, as well as a toolpath-level analysis. The combined outputs of these comprehensive models temperatures, residual stresses, forces, and power will provide the ability to predict and manage machining-induced residual stresses while simultaneously reducing machining cost and cycle time. The Phase II program will improve upon its Phase I advances in model development and validation by expanding the scope of these goals to a larger set of gear machining processes and components, and further demonstrating cycle time and cost improvements through close collaboration with gear manufacturers and DoD primes.

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