SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  A10-127 (Army)
Title:  Advanced Materials and Manufacturing for Lightweight, Low Cost Seeker Gimbals
Research & Technical Areas:  Materials/Processes

Acquisition Program:  PEO Missiles and Space
 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  Objective:  
  Description:  
  
  Objective: Develop innovative materials and associated manufacturing processes for high volume production of lightweight, low cost, precision seeker gimbal assemblies that can operate in military aviation environments inducing high stress levels i.e., temperature, vibration and shock as documented in MIL-STD-810 and including an environmental temperature range of -55 C to +85 C. Gimbals should have a capability of maintaining less than 4 miliradians pointing accuracy, greater than 60degrees/second slew rate, and less than 25 microradians rms stabilization. Description: The Programs Executive Office, Missiles and Space (PEO MS) has application for materials and manufacturing processes for lightweight, low cost gimbals. Gimbal mechanisms are used in several diverse missile assemblies, to include gyros, thrust vector control systems and missile seekers. The PEO MS is proposing a SBIR program to investigate the application of innovative materials and manufacturing processes for lightweight, low cost seeker gimbals. Innovative materials and manufacturing processes can be from any of the major material types as long as they provide lightweight and low cost in addition to being able to withstand the relevant environments. Innovative manufacturing processes can be from any of the process types to include powder technology, forging, casting, etc. Net shape or near net shape processes are of particular interest. Assembly processes should consider semi-automated and fully automated assembly. The emphasis will be on alternative materials and manufacturing processes to demonstrate innovative means to produce lightweight, low cost gimbals. Baseline performance information can be obtained by the SBIR contractor via written request to the Technical Points of Contacts. This effort is to focus upon, as a minimum, investigating potential materials and manufacturing processes to design and build 3-6 prototype gimbals with the associated optimized manufacturing and assembly techniques. A realistic production unit cost would not exceed $600-$1200 per gimbal assembly for a seeker gimbal assembly based on expectations for 20,000 to 30,000 gimbals. The cost metric is expected to be achieved while maintaining performance and quality of the gimbal. A further goal is to reduce parts count by integrating separate components into integral subassemblies. For example, brackets, clamps, wire ties, and other small parts could be formed by a number of processes. Reduction of fasteners by using existing components is another possible means to reduce cost. An increase in ruggedness and sparing costs are valuable results of simplification. Developing Flexible Manufacturing Cells (FMCs) is a means to reduce manufacturing costs by lowering direct labor cost and minimizing scrap, re-work, and material waste. The benefits include: less skilled labor, reduction in work-in-process (WIP) inventory by eliminating the need for batch processing, reduction in production lead time, permitting manufacturers to respond more quickly to the variability of demand, and improved process control, resulting in consistent quality. A FMC can consists of CNC machines, a cell computer, and a robot. Deviation in the basic design of the gimbals from existing practice, and from existing materials (generally aluminum and steel)is acceptable. There are no limitations on materials if they can meet the environmental requirements. Phase I: Investigate alternative gimbal materials and manufacturing processes to produce a low cost, lightweight gimbal capable of withstanding high stress environments. Provide down selection criteria based on reduced cost and weight. Provide an analysis to support selection of the most appropriate material and manufacturing process in conjunction with the Army for further evaluation in Phase II prototype production. Phase II: Since it isnít possible to build large quantities of assemblies on SBIR funding, nor appropriate for a research and development contract, the contractor should provide feasibility assessments of the proposed solution by building a work cell, developing processes, and producing 3-6 gimbals with the work cell equipment with the goal of demonstrating that the proposed material/manufacturing processes represents a feasible approach. Inspect gimbals for any defects and tolerances. This effort will produce information on the producibility, repeatability, estimated production time, estimated yield, and labor hours of the proposed process. The contractor should provide a lessons learned summary about the results and a manufacturing tolerance study. Provide the gimbals to PEO MS personnel as needed for performance and environmental evaluation and testing. Phase III: The military application for this technology is in the guidance/seeker assemblies for Tactical Missile Systems for rotary and fixed wing platforms. There are numerous commercial applications for precision gimbals. Some commercial applications that may benefit from this SBIR include commercial space satellite industry and the commercial aircraft cockpit avionics industries. Manufacturing Readiness Levels should mature to MRL 7-8 in this phase. References: 1) www.southernresearch.org/pdf/gimbals.pdf 2) Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing: Materials, Processes, and Systems, Groover, Wiley, 2006 3) Manufacturing Engineering Handbook, Geng and Geng, Mc Graw-Hill, 2004 4) Advanced Machining Technology Handbook, Brown, Mc Graw-Hill, 1998 5) Flexible Manufacturing Cells and Systems, Luggen, Prentice Hall, 1991 6) Manufacturing Readiness Levels - http://www.dodmrl.com 7)www.dtic.army.mil/pdf/810.pdf. for general test methods and procedures, MIL STD 810G temperature range from -65F to 165F. Method 513.5 (Acceleration), Structural Test for aircraft/helicopters/Aircraft stores and Method 514.5 Categories 12-19 (Vibration) and Method 515 (Shock) The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b(7) of the solicitation.

  References:  
Keywords:  Gimbals, FMC, net-shape, robotic

Questions and Answers:
Q: The solicitation states that baseline performance information can be obtained by the SBIR contractor via written request to the Technical Point of Contact. We request the baseline performance information regarding the desired gimbal assembly.
A: We have received repeated questions asking for the baseline performance information. The Air-To-Ground Missile System personnel have provided us with the following response during the Pre-release period:

The original SBIR topic that this is a follow on to can be viewed at:
http://www.dodsbir.net/sitis/archives_display_topic.asp?Bookmark=29466 .

At the bottom of the topic under "References" there is a link that discusses typical requirements for the seekers. The key relevant ones are those pertaining to pointing accuracy and stabilization. It is anticipated that the gimbals would be used in a missile with a 7 inch aperture.
Q: Does the topic A10-127 include a different kinematic configuration in the broader scope of design-for-manufacturing? There maybe another kinematic configuration that lends itself to integration and a reduction of costs while meeting the performance criterion. If a proposal was submitted that included this new design and investigating materials and processes, would the proposal be non-compliant on its face? Thank you for your response.
A: The SBIR evaluation is open to novel kinematic designs for gimbals. If a proposal was submitted that included a new design and included investigating materials and processes, it would be considered on its merits relative to the topic description.

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