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Manufacturers Use NASA Technology to Compete

NASA's cutting-edge technology does more than power rockets into outer space. Applying results from their research, they're working with U.S. manufacturers to enhance processes and solve problems manufacturers have with new products. It might sound like rocket science, but working with NASA through WMEP is an easy process.

WMEP recently was chosen by Great Lakes Industrial Technology Center (GLITeC) to serve as GLITeC's Wisconsin affiliate. GLITeC is one of six regional technology transfer centers. Battelle, the world's largest not-for-profit R&D organization, operates GLITeC. In its role, WMEP helps Wisconsin manufacturers access and acquire technologies for commercial and industrial applications.

As an example of how effortlessly GLITeC helps manufacturers, Moen, Inc. turned to GLITeC when they identified a market need for polished brass kitchen faucets. At that time, polished brass wasn't used in kitchens because it lacked durability and was expensive. Chrome was widely used instead. GLITeC hooked Moen up with NASA Glenn Research Center, which has expertise in protective coatings. The result was significant savings in research costs to develop Moen's "Life-Shine" coating. NASA Glenn helped Moen avoid some dead ends by evaluating technologies and visualizing the transition from lab to commercial production. Moen launched Life-Shine in 1997.

Other examples of what manufacturers are doing with NASA technology include Minnesota-based RTD. Company, which expanded its product line and market share after using NASA technology in its wire resistance temperature devices. A project with GSYS Corporation enabled the company to develop collision-avoidance systems for trucks. According to GLITeC, "Fleet enterprises spend an average of $90,000 to cover losses for each truck accident. Safeguarding the 19 million trucks on our highways with the GSYS system can reduce accidents. There is immediate economic payoff for the fleets, and the value of lives saved is immeasurable."

GLITeC links manufacturers to existing resources or explores whether NASA technologies may solve a particular problem. The "greater good" of potential products also is considered. For example, a group of outdoor engine manufacturers in Wisconsin want to reduce pollution, said David Salay, GLITeC's director of commercialization services. The end result, less pollution, will benefit many people, including the entire engine manufacturing industry.

NASA has particular expertise helping manufacturers with protective coatings, propulsion, communications (such as antennas and digital communications), atomic oxygen used for cleaning or texturizing, high-capacity cooling and temperature control, and various biomedical opportunities.

"There are a lot of exciting developments at NASA, "Salay said. When you combine them with some of the things going on in Wisconsin industry, it has the potential to create dynamic opportunities."

Call WMEP at (877) 800-2085 for more information on how NASA technology could help your business.

Copyright 2003 by WMEP.org

WMEP provides technical expertise and hands-on implementation assistance to small and midsize manufacturing firms on advanced manufacturing technologies and business practices includinglean manufacturing, ISO, value chain management, and strategic repositioning services for manufacturers and manufacturing facilities located in Wisconsin.

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