The Experts Speak: How Sikorsky plans to to leverage new tech for aerospace innovation

The following Webinar features detailed explanations from top Sikorsky engineers on IoT, Augmented Reality, Non-Destructive Testing, and Next-Generation Propulsion Technologies.

Esteemed speakers include:

Nick Lappos, Senior Technical Fellow, Advanced Technology
David Walsh, Technical Fellow, Flight Test
Ryan Patry, Staff Engineer, Advanced Manufacturing
Joseph Simonetti, Technical Fellow, Propulsion

The goal of the 7th Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge is to engage leaders in fields such as IOT, Augmented Reality, Digital Manufacturing and Next Generation Engines and explore how breakthroughs in those fields can improve current and future aircraft. The winner gets a $25,000 prize, along with an opportunity to explore, with Sikorsky, the practical application of their technology for Sikorsky’s product line.

Visit for more details on the process.

Apply for the 2016 Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge by our May 20th deadline:


Sikorsky Covered by Augmented Reality Association, The AREA

Each year Sikorsky Innovations, the advanced research organization of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, conducts a contest, the Entrepreneurial Challenge. The purpose of the contest is to identify emerging technologies that could be used in the company’s helicopters and to partner with companies which are developing these technologies. In 2015 the challenge identified Augmented Reality for manufacturing as one of the four areas of interest.

Sikorsky’s 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge Winner and the Launch of 7th Competition

Stratford, Connecticut – ​Sikorsky Innovations today announced the winner of the 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge and the launch of the 7th competition. The Entrepreneurial Challenge, driven by Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT), is designed to accelerate innovators and disruptive technology concepts with applications in the vertical flight market.
The organization declared Solace Power, based in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada, winner of the 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge for its presentation of Resonant Capacitive Coupling wireless power technology and granted the firm a $25,000 prize, along with an opportunity to explore, with Sikorsky, the impact of Solace Power technology on Sikorsky’s product line.
“The Entrepreneurial Challenge, from an industry perspective, is truly a one-of-kind gateway, where disruptive ideas can quickly gain exposure and a customer base within one of the most exciting transportation verticals globally,” said Chris Van Buiten, Vice President of Sikorsky Innovations. “We look forward to exploring the applications of the exciting Solace Power technology. The 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge exceeded our expectations, and we’re anticipating strong additions to the portfolio with competitors from the 7th competition.”
Sikorsky Innovations also awarded four other finalists from the 6th competition in two additional categories: Special Recognition, for exceptional entries, and Honorable Mention for meritorious entries.
Cadenza Innovation, LLC, based in Wilton, Connecticut, and Identify3D, based in San Francisco, California, earned Special Recognitions.
Response Technologies, LLC, based in Cumberland, Rhode Island and iQagent, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, earned Honorable Mentions.
“The Sikorsky Entrepreneurial challenge was a fantastic opportunity for Solace Power to showcase its unique wireless power technology and earn validation from one of the world’s most innovative companies,” said Neil Chaulk, Vice President of Business Development. “We are looking forward to working with Sikorsky to develop leading edge technology in the aerospace and defense market.”
For the 7th competition, Sikorsky Innovations, along with its competition partner the Stamford Innovation Center, is unveiling a new set of focus areas for which it’s seeking applications: (1) Transparent or On-Glass Visualization; (2) Rotating to Fixed-Frame Internet of Things Data Transmission; (3) Digital Manufacturing Tools for Real Time Defect Detection; and (4) Next Generation Propulsion Technologies. These areas highlight current technologies the company believes represent disruptive opportunities for the rotorcraft and aerospace market.
“After our most competitive final round to date, we’re thrilled to be able to recognize such a large number of cutting edge technology companies,” said Jonathan Hartman, Entrepreneurial Challenge lead. “These five companies, spanning all award levels, will join our existing portfolio of award recipients and have the unique opportunity to work side-by-side with our technical experts and global network.”
To take the Challenge or learn more, visit the Challenge website at Applications are due to the online portal by 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 20.
About Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that – with the addition of Sikorsky –employs approximately 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

The AREA: Thinking Long-Term About Augmented Reality Applications

The Area Logo

Augmented Reality applications will not get introduced and adopted as a workplace solution unless they address a burning business need. While the media hypes Apple’s “secret” AR/VR team and Twitter buzzes with discussions of how Magic Leap raised more money than most ever dreamed possible, the implementation of AR into our daily working lives still faces a few significant barriers to entry.
Enter AREA: The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance, the only global non-profit organization dedicated to widespread adoption of AR in enterprise. AREA members are working together to reduce the barriers that even money can’t easily address. Incorporated in 2013, the AREA’s mission is to help companies improve operational efficiency with AR.
While most of the public focus on AR is about slick games and pre-orders, members of the AREA have been using AR to increase workplace performance right under our noses by encouraging education and collaboration.

One of the ways AREA works together to educate the public is by publishing use cases, such as this abstract on AR being used to assist flight attendants by giving them real-time information on their passengers’s needs. And the AREA continues to collect dozens of Augmented Reality use cases to publish on their website.
“Without the AREA, everything a customer would find on the Web about AR is provided by a sales person who is talking about their products, some of which don’t exist yet. There’s a lot of hype and this fuels high expectations. Customers wonder how much they should be paying, how and where they should start and what options they need.” says Christine Perey, the Executive Director of AREA.
The AREA recommends that companies think of and use Augmented Reality as a new part of existing workflows which involve real world processes and objects. Getting to that level of integration, however, isn’t a straight path.

Augmented Reality Expectations vs. Reality

“Our vision is that we can help to accelerate AR adoption by providing one place where customers and providers of Enterprise AR can come together. It’s a safe place, a place of shared values.”

Translating Augmented Reality

According to Perey, Augmented Reality needs to build upon and leverage a company’s existing enterprise IT system. With AR integrated into the enterprise data delivery systems, workers can lower task interruption and cognitive load. They can also have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Perey notes that a buyer doesn’t want to spend two years testing a multitude of different products, but there is still a steep learning curve for those who want to deploy the nascent technology.
“It’s about reaching operational efficiency. If you’re selling technology and it takes you weeks months or years to educate your customer, that’s not efficient. What they want to know is: what do I need and where do I get it?” If providers and customers are speaking two different languages, the process is slow and inefficient.

Barriers to Entry in Augmented Reality

Partnering for AR Success

The AREA’s 28 members—from two-person startups to multi billion dollar Fortune 100’s like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson and Bosch—are partnering to develop best practices and guidelines.
“While the AREA website is focused on customer education, we also offer programs that help our members collaborate on research products and train more professionals. We speak at events. We promote high quality, vendor-neutral content, so it’s not all sales materials.”
The AREA itself partners with other industry organizations, including RA’pro in France.
“Research consortia, like EPRI, and leading research institutes such as Georgia Tech and the University of Sheffield in the UK are also important to our ecosystem. They provide things that are not for sale, they are not competing with the providers of products or services.”

Members of the AREA Augmented Reality Alliance for Enterprise

But what about organizations who are highly secretive, or don’t believe in collaboration?
“In all honesty, there are people who only see the world in their way, and I think if people don’t feel driven to working with others to build a better, more productive workplace, they are unlikely to join our organization… The companies who do join are those that think about a much bigger picture. They are thinking about the long term… We all know AR is going to be a big leap, so we need to join hands and pool our resources to get there.”

Remote Additive Manufacturing – A Huge Benefit of 3d Printing

Industry and military await the day that 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing can repair and replace parts in the farthest reaches of the world

If you’ve invested millions in advanced technology, you expect it to be available all the time. Any downtime is costly for a wide variety of reasons. That’s why companies that produce complex systems (automotive, aerospace and heavy industry) have huge investments in parts inventory so that they can provide their customers with replacements to get systems back up and running in the shortest time possible. But there is an emerging scenario that will allow manufacturers to better manage their inventory process and leverage Additive Manufacturing (AM) capabilities to reduce expense and improve flexibility. In this scenario, needed parts would be be produced via Additive Manufacturing techniques on an as-needed basis, in facilities a few hours travel away from the piece of equipment in need of repair. The oil industry is researching this “just-in-time” AM opportunity, as is the military, which covets the ability to fix machinery in the field. NASA has also successfully tested AM on the International Space Station.

Where additive manufacturing could save money and reduce risk

Drilling for oil above the Arctic Circle, maintaining heavy-use airplanes on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Indian Ocean, or replacing a defective part while circling the earth in the International Space Station are all examples of remote workplaces that stretch the common understanding of a supply chain.

That’s why the people in charge of supply chains and the associated economics are among the most fanatical proponents of additive manufacturing/3D printing.


The oil and gas industry, which is working in increasingly remote and hostile environments, views additive manufacturing as a proven technology — based on work being done in the aerospace and biomedical fields.

Components of a typical oil rig part include the mud pump, which has pistons and valves that need to be replaced every eight to 24 days. These commodity items are shipped from China. In a scenario envisioned in an article in “Today’s Energy Solutions” magazine, a small additive manufacturing operation could be set up in a shipping container to repair worn-out parts with materials that would last longer. Such a practice would reduce inventory and increase service life of the repaired parts.


A 3D printer has been tested on the International Space Station to show that it can work in micro gravity. The test machine used plastic, not metal, but is considered the first step toward realizing a machine shop in space, which would be critical for any Deep Space mission. The European Space Agency is also working on plans to build a lunar base using 3D printing.

On the seas

The U.S. Navy, which must contend with repair and replacement issues that constrict the ability to store large numbers of parts or to access new ones quickly from off-ship locations, views additive manufacturing as having the potential to transform Navy logistics and maintenance capabilities.

Here are some examples:

  • Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Rapid Prototype Lab is saving the Navy thousands of dollars on the Gerald R. Ford-class of aircraft carriers. Instead of traditional wood or metal mockups of ship alterations, which help to prevent expensive rework, the lab prints much cheaper plastic polymer models – in hours, rather than days or weeks. Now all four Navy shipyards have 3D printers working on similar, and other, ways to benefit the Navy.
  • The Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast took advantage of the ability to work with more complicated designs and unique material properties to develop an enhanced hydraulic intake manifold for the V-22 Osprey. This manifold is 70 percent lighter, improves fluid flow, and has fewer leak points than its traditionally manufactured counterpart.
  • The circuit card clip for J-6000 Tactical Support System Servers, installed onboard Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines and Ohio-class nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines is no longer produced by its original manufacturer. Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport uses additive manufacturing to create a supply of replacement parts to keep the fleet ready.

Challenges to reaching the next level

The technology is not yet advanced enough to accomplish some of the most imaginative and coveted tasks – providing quick repairs to allow marooned military fighters to fix a plane, helicopter or similar machine and get out of harm’s way or improve combat readiness.

But with military aircraft now operating for more years Pull quote Frazierthan originally designed, parts that were not expected to be replaced are failing. For the military, shipping electrons rather than raw materials is very appealing. Even in normal, non-combat circumstances, the future of AM offers the military ways to save money and time.

The challenges to achieving everything that can be imagined by engineers and scientists who want to build nearly anything they need through AM techniques are still basic. Dr. Ranier Hebert is director of the The Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at the University of Connecticut. He is investigating the physics of additive manufacturing. AM is still a relatively young process compared to traditional manufacturing, and there are questions about whether results can be duplicated from machine to machine or how different materials react under similar circumstances and at different temperatures. Those are the answers Hebert and his lab are seeking.

“It’s the type of data you can’t look up in the literature,” Hebert said. “But the advanced measurement modeling and simulation we are doing will speed up development.”

Developing ways to gain this information is critical for the day to arrive when parts can be repaired anywhere from the tundra, to the deck of a ship or even in outer space. “If we have a part spinning at 70,000 rpm and the tolerance is off,” Hebert said, “the engine will blow up. The tolerances are not yet what we need them to be.”


3d Printing Has Huge Upside But Requires Proven Testing Tech

Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing is the Future, but There’s a Catch

There are many benefits to the eventual widespread use of 3D printing and other Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques. But components, parts, and tools created through the printing of metal and other high value substances are unlikely to gain widespread commercial acceptance within aerospace or other manufacturing categories without proven NDT (nondestructive testing) testing techniques.

Nondestructive Testing (NDT) During Manufacturing is a Goal

The aerospace industry’s goal is to conduct non-destructive tests during the additive process, almost particle by particle. Such processes would not only help manufacturers spot flaws, but would open the possibility that they could correct imperfections before finishing parts. This may require the industry to develop different testing for the various forms of additive manufacturing, which include melting raw materials with lasers or electron beams, or building layers of small particles into detailed patterns, many of which are only achievable using AM techniques.

Materials and Product Testing is an Established Field

Testing has long been an integral part of manufacturing, from the raw materials that manufacturers shape in a forge to the blanks that they might turn on a lathe, to the final products that workers measure and check for flaws. Many ingenious methods exist for looking inside both components and finished products, including liquid penetrationindustrial radiography and electromagnetics.
While manufacturers might also apply some of these testing methods to AM, products produced via 3D printing are often too complicated to see inside with clarity, even with X-rays or electromagnetic tools. More importantly, workers can’t take the products apart for repair if something is wrong. Current testing protocols call for operators to dismember a percentage of each batch of any item so they can identify flaws in the process. But this method doesn’t guarantee that the other pieces in the batch are free of imperfections. The good news is that when NDT verification of 3D printed parts is finally ready for prime-time, manufacturers will have decades of data and best practices to leverage for benchmarking purposes.

Sikorsky Innovations is Looking for New Verification Techniques for 3D Printed Materials

Sikorsky Innovations is one of the global R&D groups focused on developing a robust approach to testing the output of 3D Manufacturing/Additive Manufacturing processes. “Additive Manufacturing will be restricted to a minor role in aerospace manufacturing until new verification techniques are developed,” according to Bill Harris, a Technical Fellow with Sikorsky Aircraft,.”As we get more and more product produced this way, you’ll need more innovative ways to test and validate product,” he said. “The time to start making this investment is now.”
As part of the 6th Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge, the company has made a statement on the types of technologies they are looking for on the path to mission critical 3d printing/Additive Manufacturing. Specifically, the challenge calls for: Aerospace quality additive manufacturing of complex geometry with real time inspection.”

Please share your Nondestructive Testing Tech and Ideas

Real time, nondestructive testing of 3D printed materials is of strong interest to Sikorsky Aircraft. If you have tech or concepts that support nondestructive testing, please submit them to Sikorsky Innovations’ 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge. Click here to learn more about the competition and how you might compete for $25,000 in no-strings-attached funding.


Stamford Innovation Center is working closely with Sikorsky Innovations to drive awareness and identify great ideas for submission to the 6th Sikorsky EChallenge. The current challenge is focused on uncovering companies that can provide leading edge thinking and products in critical new areas of technology including Additive Manufacturing, Augmented Reality, Sensors, and Energy Storage/Management. For more information, visit


Augmented Reality Project Planning — The Six Questions to Answer

Greater understanding of the information around an object, like a work of art, is an AR benefit.
Greater understanding of the information around an object, like a work of art, is an AR benefit.
While Augmented Reality glasses are not available for consumer use in 2015, many people might be surprised to know that AR Goggles have been already successfully applied
in pilot programs for “desk-less workers” (people who work with their hands and whose workload would benefit from being able to put down handheld devices), such as HPs Visual Remote Guidance program.
At a recent Augmented Reality Meetup in Manhattan, Pete Wassell, CEO of Augment, noted that AR may be in use even more than we think. Thinking of it as a “secret weapon,” he believes some companies may be keeping their AR-investments and pilots under wraps until they are six months or a year into their programs.

Assessing The Need For Augmented Reality

Successful Augmented Reality Project Planning requires mastery of many diverse fields, including everything from hardware and software development, to data entry, UX, graphic design, and even ergonomics.
Luca Bertuccelli, founder of the UX team at United Technologies Research Center, stresses that Augmented Reality is just one tool in a toolbox.
“At its core, any new technology has to add value to what the people are doing at that particular point in time,” Bertuccelli says. “The key is zooming in on some of those valuable use cases and very quickly figuring out if that technology makes sense.”

“When implementing new technology, you need to be aware of the whole ecosystem, starting from the humans that are going to be using it.”
Luca Bertuccelli – United Technologies Research Center

Are Augmented Reality Investments Right For Your Company?  Answer these six questions.

When considering the use of AR in an enterprise setting, the following six questions should be addressed:
  1. Does it create a more efficient work environment?
  2. Does it help lighten individual workloads?
  3. Does it enhance collaboration?
  4. Does it create better awareness?
  5. Does it reduce the probable need for later repairs?
  6. Does it increase speed and efficiency in training?

Codeveloping for Augmented Reality

Before or during the creation of a testbed for Augmented Reality applications, developers must understand what the end users do and how they do it. This is why Bertuccelli stresses the need for co-development.
augmented reality“We need to co-develop the technology and really understand if users are interested in it and if they gain value in using it. Whether it’s medical or industrial, the important part is that at the end of the day, you are talking about helping people do their jobs in a better way.”
Bertuccelli describes working with Augmented Reality Usability as a SocioTechnical System. “When implementing new technology, you need to be aware of the whole ecosystem, starting from the humans that are going to be using it.” “It needs to make sense.”

Challenges Faced By Augmented Reality Designers

“There’s a saying in aerospace,” Bertuccelli says, “Technology needs to earn its way into the cockpit.” He is referring specifically to head-up display technology, but the same concept can be applied to any workspace.
It is important to remember that the introduction of AR goggles into the workplace requires retraining as well as sensitivity. Skilled workers have been doing their jobs for years, and as such, they have a sense of earned pride. They have developed workarounds and shortcuts, and may even be distrustful of being “replaced” by technology.
Like the path once taken by smartphones, Bertuccelli reminds us that many careful hours were put into thinking about who the users would be and how they would experience the technology. How is the data being shared between different users, for example?
If you have ideas, technology or solutions that can be applied towards enterprise augmented reality, we hope you’ll consider applying for the $25K Sikorsky EChallenge.  Here’s what they are looking for:  “Real-time augmented reality for collaborative applications and complex manufacturing processes.”  Click here to apply.


Is 3D Printing the Future of Manufacturing?

Is 3D Printing the Future of Manufacturing?

3D Printing has the potential to reshape manufacturing by lowering costs and shortening the amount of time it takes to make complex parts. Much of the progress at the high end is being driven by the aerospace industry.
The precision and robust approach to testing required for success in aerospace will once again provide benefits for other industries as they get to work with vendors who have survived the experience of having their work pushed to the limit by aerospace engineers.
Small Engine Part created using Additive Manufacturing Techniques
Small Engine Part created using Additive Manufacturing Techniques

What is 3D Printing?

The 3D printing technique (also called Additive Manufacturing) builds parts by melting a metal or plastic and applying it one layer at a time. Extremely complex parts can be constructed in less time, and at lower weight, than it takes in traditional manufacturing, which might forge parts or cut them out of blocks of material. Replacement parts can be built when needed and new designs can be put into place with less prototyping.

What is the Most Ambitious 3D Printing Project?

Additive Manufacturing techniques are now being applied to nearly every field of manufacturing and repair. A 3D printed car even made the cover of Popular Mechanics last month, and there is definitely a pop-star type of glow around the concept.  The University of Connecticut is building the Pratt and Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at its Storrs campus. GE is investing $125 million in a plant in Alabama devoted to 3D printing.  And several governmental and business organizations are encouraging inventors to push the technology.
One of them is Sikorsky Aircraft, which is looking for technology from small and large teams around the world to submit 3D Printing technology ideas to Sikorsky Innovations’ 6th Entrepreneurial Challenge. Learn more about the Sikorsky Innovation Challenge and how you might compete for $25,000 in no-strings-attached funding.

So What’s the biggest Hurdle for Mission Critical 3D Printing?

large electron beam AM machine
Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing Machine.
But 3D printing faces obstacles before it fulfills the promise many industrial experts expect of it, with the largest probably being finding a way to test complex printed parts to ensure they meet all the specifications.

How Do You Test a Complicated 3D Printed Part?

The ideal testing concept is called non-destructive testing, or NDT, which finds flaws with X-rays or other methods of figuring out what is inside the object without cutting it open. Many items created by 3D printing are extremely complex; if traditionally manufactured they would contain two dozen separate pieces. Non-destructive testing, however, is not yet advanced enough.
Greg Morris, manager of additive manufacturing and business development at GE Aviation, acknowledged that the industry still faces many challenges in finding, preventing and correcting defects in AM products. Morris said last year at the Propulsion and Energy Forum of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that, “right now, inspection processes account for 25 percent of the total cost of parts produced additively.” Those costs, he said, must come down before the technology can gain wider acceptance.
Many experts, though, are optimistic about the future of 3D printing.. Terry Wohlers, a long-time consultant in 3D printing, pointed out that the technology has already made dramatic progress. In his newsletter, (title of newsletter and link) Wohlers said that additive manufacturing was once considered only for the creation of models, prototypes and patterns. Today, however, manufacturers like Boeing use 3D printing to produce complex environmental control ducting for military and commercial jets, significantly reducing inventory, labor, weight and maintenance.

“Given what I am seeing, I believe that AM will eventually have a greater breadth of impact on the production of products than any manufacturing technology in recent history,” Wohlers wrote.

When Do I Get to 3D Print a Car?

Which brings us back to the printed car given such prominent space by Popular Mechanics. It was made by a Phoenix-based company called Local Motors, which describes itself as a “technology company that designs, builds, and sells badass vehicles.” The car design featured in the magazine is called the Strati and was built out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
As Troy Stains of Popular Mechanics wrote, “Developing countries would love this technology for cheap transportation, but so might the rich guy who wants a thousand-horsepower car of his own design, printed in a production run of one. Or the carmaker that wants to churn out a complete car in ten hours rather than 24, using a fraction of the components. Modern cars are complicated, but the union of 3D printing and electric propulsion — where the motor has just one moving part — points to a future in which that’s no longer a given.”

The U.S. Government wants Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing to Advance.

That kind of look toward the future is shared with government and business organizations alike. The U.S. Navy, in a request for proposal earlier this year, endorsed the potential of 3D printing. The technique, the Navy wrote,” is of wide interest across many industries and throughout the world …. This technology is expected to be of interest to many commercial industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical.”