SBIR-STTR Success: QuesTek Innovations, LLC
When the U.S. Navy sought a new type of high strength steel for Helicopter gears, QuesTek Innovations utilized the SBIR program to not only meet this need, but deliver a brand new material that is reaching far beyond the military. Currently, major aerospace companies all over the world are investing in QuesTek’s patented Ferrium® C64®, which provides gearbox longevity, increased power-toweight ratio, and a reduction in production, operation and support costs.
QuesTek, through the Army’s Future Advanced Rotorcraft Drive System (FARDS) program, was awarded a subcontract from Bell Helicopter to jointly evaluate the applications of C64 in an effort to improve the performance and affordability of current aircraft drive systems. The U.S. Army is particularly interested in “oil-out” survivability – which is the ability to continue operating when the transmission system leaks oil, mainly due to gunfire. Recent tests have shown that a helicopter can still maintain stability after 80 minutes when equipped with C64 – compared with today’s industry standard of only 15 minutes.
C64 is currently licensed out to Carpenter Technology, which produces and sells the alloy. In a related SBIR project with the Army, QuesTek is evaluating and demonstrating C64 steel for the additive manufacturing of aerospace gears and fatigue-driven applications. Other applications include racing transmission gears, gears with integral bearing races, and other power transmission components where durability, compactness, weight savings, high temperature resistance and/or high surface fatigue resistance is valued. C64 is also being evaluated under a Department of Energy Phase II SBIR program for the additive manufacturing of wind turbine gears.