An innovation that helps speed the design of fishing rods, skis and cell phone electronics will soon help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) do its work in space.
AnalySwift, a Utah State University spinout, received a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from NASA in August 2019. The company recently worked with the Utah SBIR Center, which assists Utah companies to secure this highly competitive non-equity position funding.
The company is collaborating with researchers from Purdue University to develop a new framework for modeling and simulating certain types of composite materials and structures. The advancements will be incorporated into existing AnalySwift software, named SwiftComp, and used by companies to provide accurate and efficient modeling of composites.
“This is an outstanding recognition and validation of our technology,” said Allan Wood, president and CEO of AnalySwift. “NASA is going to be able to use the software as it designs devices and structures to help achieve success in space exploration, including deployable structures and living vessels used in a space environment.”
Composites are a vital part of Utah’s thriving advanced materials industry, with thousands employed by advanced materials-related firms. Because of SwiftComp’s uniquely powerful combination of speed and accuracy, engineers can consider more design options and arrive at the best solution more quickly. Engineers at the company are able to handle complex models and have a higher degree of confidence in the results. These advances allow companies to be more competitive by getting to market more quickly while reducing costs.
In Space, On Earth
Composites offer numerous advantages over traditional materials. NASA is interested in materials classified as high strain thin-ply composites, which can be used for multiple space and commercial applications. Space applications include deployable composite booms, foldable panels, hinges, reflectors, as well as lightweight structures for satellite buses, landers, rovers, solar arrays and antennas. There are many commercial applications as well, including fishing rods, golf clubs, skis and industrial tubes, to name a few.
Wood notes the software will help NASA engineers model high-strain composites with a tradeoff between efficiency and accuracy previously unreachable using more conventional modeling methods. The software reduces analysis time from hours to minutes and has been licensed to companies, government agencies and universities worldwide.