SBIR-STTR-Success: FUCHS CONSULTING
The husband and wife team at Fuchs Consulting is changing the status quo when it comes to inspecting bridges and other large structures. Normal maintenance for these critical structures usually started off with a mere visual inspection. Repairs were made based on a hypothesis, creating a huge issue as far as cost and more importantly, safety. Fuchs Consulting responded to a Federal Highway Administration (FHA) SBIR solicitation with its solution – ThermalStare. And while the SBIR project saw the development of a tool to assess corrosion below the surface of paints, the company leveraged this funding and created an entire suite of products based on the same concept.
The technology uses infrared cameras that collect and process data in unique ways. By accurately assessing non-visible sub-surface damage, which was never before available, repairs can be planned based on actual damage. Instruments are customized to inspect different materials. Some systems measure non-visible defects in paints and others measure non-visible damage in concrete. Fuchs offers this technology as a service and sells instruments, and to date has DOT clients in Oregon, Maryland, Missouri and South Carolina.
The SBIR program developed a coating inspection system for the highway bridge industry, but the instrument has application in other industries. The U.S. Navy purchased a coating inspection system to inspect the flight decks of its large ships. Fuchs also has clients in China for its coating inspection system, including an engineering inspection company. Since many different industries use coatings, the company is currently exploring applicability in other sectors.
“The SBIR program has been invaluable to us,” says Dr. Paul Fuchs, Founder and President. “It’s an excellent vehicle to not only develop these products, but to get them out to the industries that really need them.”