Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone here at Stratosmith is thankful for the friends and family we have in our lives, as well as the opportunities before us.  Thanksgiving is a fantastic holiday, not just because of the food, but because it fosters an appreciation of what you have and where it comes from.  It is also a great opportunity to be with those close to you, and to reconnect with those that you may have drifted apart from.

Enjoy a delicious meal, relax in good company, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

~Your friends at Stratosmith

 

15 Notes for Proposing on Small Business Innovation and Research Grants

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As the new calendar year approaches, technical small businesses turn their minds to the holidays… and SBIRs.  SBIRs are Small Business Innovation and Research grants.  They are a method for the government to get innovative ideas into the fold from sources that are typically neglected, like small businesses.  Each federal agency is required to devote a percentage of their funding toward these grants.  They are not easy to win, as small businesses all over the country put their best foot forward to win.

NASA opened up their pre-solicitation period for SBIRs today.  The Department of Defense will open their first (they have three solicitations throughout the year) on December 12th.

Some important notes:

  1. Different agencies have their own solicitation schedules.  NASA (sbir.nasa.gov) and the Air Force tend to release topics once per year.  The rest of the DOD (dodsbir.net) (Army, Navy, DARPA, etc.) release topics thrice per year.  DOE, DOT, etc. have their own schedules (sbir.gov).
  2. Each agency has different funding levels and proposal requirements.  Pay attention to the requirements of both the topic description and the proposal instructions.
  3. Each agency evaluates things a little differently.  DOT and DOD do things differently, and this has to be understood when proposing.
  4. Your business must be registered in SAM and have a DUNS number and CAGE code.
  5. Ensure that you can show expertise or a way of quickly obtaining it for each area that you must address in your proposal.  For example, if you have no experienced bridge builders for a proposal dealing with building bridges, find a consultant and schedule visits to bridge construction sites.  Demonstrate that you’ve taken the appropriate steps to address potential weak points.
  6. In line with #4, partner if you need to.  You can partner with other small businesses, educational institutions, consultants, and large businesses.  There are certain limitations to this, which are spelled out in the proposal instructions.
  7. You will most likely not win the first time.  A NASA Small Business Officer once told me that companies on average take four tries before winning their first SBIR.
  8. It will take more time than you think to put together a proposal.
  9. Make sure that whatever concept you propose is innovative.  These are not typically engineer to requirements.  This is research and development, and your proposal needs to reflect that.
  10. You can ask questions at any time during the pre-solicitation and solicitation periods.  You can only talk directly to the Topic PoC (Point of Contact) during the pre-solicitation period.
  11. If you don’t win an award, make sure to get a debriefing.  Agencies are required to provide debriefings for losing proposals if requested.  The debriefings are text-only, and will provide you with feedback you can use for the next proposal.
  12. Again, if you don’t win, you can look and see who did.  Unfortunately, you can only see their abstract, but that’s good because…
  13. Your intellectual property remains yours, not the government’s.  This is different that the typical government contract.  You need to retain your IP, though, because…
  14. SBIRs are supposed to result in production and, possibly, commercial products in the end.
  15. Speaking of which, SBIRs are broken into three (3) phases.  Phase I is usually research and/or testing to establish that your concept will work.  It can also involve some detailed design work.  Phase II is essentially prototype development, production, and testing.  Phase III may or may not be partially funded by the government.  Phase III would be full-rate production.  If there is true commercial viability, the government believes that you can find a commercial partner or other source of financing to make up the difference.  They may provide nothing.  The IP remains yours, but they gain a perpetual license to use whatever comes out of the SBIR.

Stratosmith will be proposing on at least one SBIR in the coming months.  We often look to partner with companies that can provide capabilities that we don’t have in-house.  We also look to support others’ proposals.  If there is something that you think we can help you with, from writing the proposal to engineering to testing, give us a call or e-mail us at SBIR@stratosmith.net.

Stratosmith Doubles Internet Exposure

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Now you can find us at http://www.stratosmith.com, too!

Stratosmith secured the web domain www.stratosmith.com today, making it even easier for customers to find us online.  The acquisition of the domain is part of a long-term plan which will make it easier for customers to find us, our products, and exciting new developments.

Keep following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and here, as Stratosmith is preparing to launch new product campaigns soon!  Watch for information and opportunities to get involved!

Stratosmith to exhibit at NASA KSC Industry Day Expo

expoStratosmith Technologies will be exhibiting at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Industry Day Expo on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at Cruise Terminal Building #3 in Port Canaveral, FL. Our engineers will be showcasing some of Stratosmith’s unique capabilities and cost-effective solutions in mechanical engineering design, analysis, and development.

Please contact us with any questions or to schedule a meeting at this event. For more information about the Expo, please visit the KSC Expo website.

Stratosmith Exhibiting at 2014 TechXpo in Melbourne, FL

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Stratosmith Technologies will be exhibiting at the 2014 TechXpo, a showcase of innovative technology and manufacturing companies located in Florida’s Space Coast, including aerospace, composites, consumer products, 3D printing, research, robotics, transportation, and more! The TechXpo will be held October 4th at the Midair Production Facility at Melbourne International Airport.

Find out more about the TechXpo and register to attend at http://floridatechxpo.com/.  We hope to see you there!

3D Scan to 3D Print: The Process

3D printing is an increasingly popular term for a variety of additive manufacturing processes, where parts are built from the bottom up into their finished forms instead of being carved out of a solid piece of material, or melted into a mold. Some typical additive manufacturing processes include Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (STL), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and more. Despite using different materials, machines, and methods, each of these processes start with the same thing – a 3D computer model of the finished part.

Where does the 3D model come from? If all features and sizes of the final part are known, the part can be developed and modeled directly into a CAD program, such as SolidWorks, by a design engineer. The throttle grip model, seen below, was modeled directly to customer specifications.

CAD Model of Throttle Grip

For organic, highly curved, and contoured surfaces of existing components, geometry may be captured through 3D scanning. This process uses optical cameras, infrared cameras, and/or laser emitters to take a series of images or points and utilizes software algorithms to build a computer model of the object in a matter of minutes, rather than the weeks of work that might be required to reconstruct the geometry from hand measurements and approximations. The human face is the epitome of highly contoured and unique geometry – each is extraordinarily expressive and distinct from any other. Joshua Smith, our company President, was an eager volunteer for 3D scanning. A handheld scanner was used to measure the geometry directly into software running on a desktop computer. The software program processes all of the raw data from the scanner and builds the 3D geometry from a series of images and data points. Surrounding features and background objects are then removed from the 3D geometry. The final colorized scan can be seen in the image below.

Joshua 3D Scan

After the scan is created, it is converted into a 3D mesh made up of points on the geometric surface. This mesh is then used to create a solid 3D model which may be further customized, or directly converted for 3D printing. The final mesh of Joshua’s model can be seen below.

Joshua 3D Model

At this point, whether modeled directly or via a 3D scan, the solid model is ready for 3D printing. A software program is used to customize the parameters for the print, including material type, layer height, infill density, and more. The program then creates instructions in G-code, a numerical control programming language consisting of a series of points describing the motions, speeds, and extrusion required to build the 3D model. The G-code is sent to the HighRPM, and the final model is printed right here in Stratosmith’s offices. The final 3D printed models of Joshua and the throttle grip can be seen below.

Joshua 3D PrintThrottle Grip 3D Print

Whether developing a new orthogonal part, or reverse engineering complex surfaces and organic geometry, a multitude of modern design tools including SolidWorks, 3D scanning, and the HighRPM rapid prototyping machine enable Stratosmith’s engineering team to accelerate the design and manufacturing processes, bringing concept to reality quickly and affordably.

Thank you for taking this journey with us from 3D Scan to 3D Print. Feel free to contact us with any questions. We would love to hear from you!

 

Certified Mechanical Design Professionals at Your Service

CSWP-MDWe are pleased to announce that Stratosmith Technologies President and Chief Engineer, Joshua Smith, has received his SolidWorks Professional Mechanical Design (CSWP-MD) certification!

The rigorous examination process and culminating certification recognizes efficiency, proficiency, and multidisciplinary expertise in engineering design gained through more than a decade of experience using SolidWorks Computer Aided Design and Engineering (CAD/CAE) software to design, analyze, and build a myriad of different parts, systems, mechanisms, and assemblies, from precision electromechanical components for turbine blade machining to 300,000 pound weldments for spacecraft assembly and testing.

Joshua is proud of this recognition of his engineering expertise and leadership, and will continue mentoring other members of Stratosmith’s engineering team currently pursuing this and other industry certifications.

Congratulations, Joshua!

Stratosmith Technologies to attend 2014 Women in Defense Expo

f22purpleswirlStratosmith Technologies will be attending the 2014 Space Coast Women in Defense Resource Expo on May 15. We are looking forward to the opportunity to build relationships with this passionate group of engineers, scientists, and leaders who support the defense capabilities of the United States. Several of our recent projects will be on display, including innovative composite structures, rapid prototype components, and mechanical systems.

Find out more about Women in Defense here: http://wid.ndia.org/

Stratosmith Technologies to attend 2014 AUVSI Unmanned Systems Expo

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Stratosmith Technologies will be attending the 2014 AUVSI Unmanned Systems Event in Orlando, Florida, from May 11-15. This exciting industry event encompasses businesses, research, and technology across all aspects of unmanned systems, including robotics, aerospace vehicles, and underwater systems. Of note is the 2014 Unmanned Systems Demonstration to be held at the NASA Kennedy Space Center on May 11. Dozens of unmanned air and ground vehicles and systems will be demonstrated at this first of its kind event!

Find out more about the show at http://www.auvsishow.org/ and feel free to contact us to schedule a meeting at the show to add Stratosmith’s mechanical engineering expertise to your unmanned systems project.

Stratosmith Now Offering Free Technical Consultations

Excellence in customer service is central to our business and a key value of every member of the Stratosmith Technologies team. We know that project success is as critical to our customers as it is to our own success, and we work with you to achieve your technology and innovation goals.

As part of our dedication to our customers, current and future, we are now offering free, individual consultation sessions with a member of our technical staff to refine concepts, define project goals, provide manufacturing tips, or just chat about the newest technologies and the many innovations we want to see brought from concept to reality.

Schedule a free, no obligation technical consultation with one of our experienced design engineers today and find the optimum solution to your engineering needs! Click the button below to get started, or contact us directly. We look forward to working with you!

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