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Nov 2015  
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Third Wave Systems contracts with USAF

Third Wave Systems, a Minneapolis-based provider of machining modeling technology, has been awarded a $3 million contract by the U.S.  Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. The contract, one of the largest funded projects in Third Wave’s 20-year history, is to expand its metalcutting simulation solutions to composite materials used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF), which transitions innovative technologies to resolve operational DoD challenges, is allocating funds for the contract.

Selected from hundreds of submitted white papers, Third Wave’s project, "High Productivity Composite Machining for F135 Fan Inlet Case," is a direct response to the DoD's need to reduce risk at every stage of composite manufacturing in addition to improving machined composite component quality to accelerate insertion. Composite components offer great performance and fuel economy benefits for modern military aircraft, yet introduction of these materials into engine and airframe platforms is hindered by the high costs and long lead times of manufacturing.

Third Wave's Chief Technical Officer, Troy Marusich, Ph.D., said hess looking forward to the project.

"We are excited to once again partner with the Air Force on this RIF project which will result in full-scale composite machining modeling software, enabling reduced costs and manufacturing times while improving component quality," said Dr. Troy Marusich, Third Wave’s Chief Technical Officer. "Working closely with GKN and other F-35 suppliers will result in the development, demonstration and transition of this technology into the DoD supply base."

Third Wave intends to mature and transition machining modeling technology that will reduce composite machining times by 20 to 30 percent and tooling costs by 20 percent. The reduction in time and cost minimize composite machining risks and accelerate insertion of organic matrix composites into military systems. Initial technology transition target for the project are the F135 fan inlet case.

Working closely with Third Wave throughout the 2-year project will be several F-35 suppliers, including GKN Aerospace, which  will be the primary project partner as a supplier of the F135 fan inlet case. Working with these companies, Third Wave will develop, validate and implement a physics-based machining model of the Cycom 5250-4 bismaleimides (BMI) composite material. Additionally, airframe builders Triumph Group and Northrop Grumman Corp., along with F-35 composite machining supplier Janicki Industries, will work with Third Wave to perform similar activities for resin systems Cycom 977-3 and AFR-PR-4.

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