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January 18 2014

January 29, 2014

18January2014

Newswire

 

Farmers in Australia gear towards robots

by Press • 13 January 2014

KEN WILSON

 

WITHOUT question, the most notable advance in agricultural machinery in 2013, centred on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.

Linked to arguably world-breaking advances in software technology, the initial trial work, principally by the Mingenew Irwin Group (MIG), has set the stage for UAVs to play a pivotal role in broadacre farming throughout Australia.

MIG executive member Darrin Lee became the first farmer in Australia to adopt UAV technology for his cropping program, incorporating a new computer software program he describes as the next quantum step in precision agriculture.

According to Darrin, using UAVs, farmers will initially have a tool to employ to reveal real-time nutrient status of crops, weed and insect populations in paddocks, germination status and sub-soil moisture availability.

All the information will be GPS referenced which means, for example, telematics can be employed to transfer data from a UAV, flying as low as five metres (17ft), to a controller in a tractor or SP sprayer, so an operator effectively has a spot-sprayer at his disposal, with two centimetre (sub inch) accuracy.

Future models, already on the drawing boards, will carry chemical tanks for GPS-controlled spraying or a range of cameras and computer controllers for improved quality mapping or spectral subsoil imagery, alleviating the need for a ground sled to collect information.

Darrin already is well along the track in setting up his 6500ha property – on which he crops 4200ha while running 5000 sheep – having put his hand up as a guinea pig to employ UAV technology.

“I’m collecting and collating farm data back to 1998,” he said. “Along with ground-truthing data, it will be used in a new software program which will interface with the UAV data we collect.”

“The new program will provide me with a range of historical, real-time and pre-emptive information on which I can make more accurate and cost effective management decisions.

“The UAV’s potential uses on my farm are mind-blowing and it is self-evident that having a tool that can fly over your property to gather precise information takes my time management to a new level.

“That was probably the biggest incentive to get involved because it has freed up my time to be more analytical with the almost seamless and timely information at my fingertips.”

Another pleasing development for farmers in 2013 was the completion of so-called Tier 4 engine development to meet strict international emissions standards.

Manufacturers rolled out new tractors, combine harvesters and self-propelled sprayers, all boasting new engine technology designed to save fuel while providing more power – high horsepower 4WD tractors are now heading towards power ratings of 522kW (700hp), linked to step-less transmissions operated by sophisticated engine management systems.

Apart from engine advances, computer technology was employed to provide more real-time data collection for farmers to interface with machinery multiples, such as the ability of a lead header to “talk” with and steer following headers in a paddock.

This telematics technology is the pre-cursor to so-called robotic farming, with driverless vehicles.

European manufacturer CLAAS revealed part of its research and development program at the 2013 Agritechnica Show in Hanover, Germany where it picked up seven medals – one gold and six silver – for innovation in agricultural technology.

Its gold medal was awarded for the company’s driving simulator, which provides online training in the operation of the company’s advanced technology in harvesting, hay equipment and tractors.

This is seen as a critical component in the advance of technology as service providers struggle to provide adequate technical support to farmers.

Tracked harvesters were also flagged by manufacturers as the way of the future, particularly as Australian farmers adopt controlled traffic farming (CTF) systems.

The jury is still out in this country on the merits of tracks but manufacturers, in their wisdom, believe it’s the right pathway.

Controlled traffic is gaining more traction, excuse the pun, in WA.

http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/machinery/general-news/farmers-gear-towards-robots/2683809.aspx?storypage=1

 

MOU between the FAA and AMA

by Patrick Egan • 11 January 2014

 

Signed at the AMA Expo, Ontario California. DTV is there and will report back!

Memorandum of Understanding between Academy of Model Aeronautics and Federal Aviation Administration

Concerning Operation of Model Aircraft In the National Airspace System

Purpose

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a cooperative working relationship between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).

Background

AMA is a nationally recognized, non-profit membership organization that was established in 1936. The organization has provided leadership for an expansive aero-modeling community throughout the United States and its territories. Over time, AMA has developed and maintained a National Model Aircraft Safety Code, which provides guidelines for the safe
operation of model aircraft.

Until 1981, there were no federal guidelines or directives for model aircraft operations. In June of that year, the FAA published an Advisory Circular (AC 91-57) titled “Model Aircraft Operating Standards.” Although not directive in nature, AC 91-57 provided general guidance for the operation of model aircraft.

On February 17, 2012, President Obama signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (Pub.L.112-95) into law. Within this Act, a special provision for model aircraft was enacted. Section 336 of the FMRA provides a definition of the term “model aircraft”, requirements for operating model aircraft, and reinforces the authority that the FAA possesses to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft in an unsafe manner. In addition, section 106 and 40103 of Title 49, United States Code provides the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration to prescribe aviation standards and regulate aviation operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).

In addition, in the FMRA, Congress acknowledged the efficacy of community-based safety programming, and specified that if a model aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization, the FAA may not promulgate any rule or regulation
regarding that model aircraft.

This MOU outlines the relationship that will be maintained between the FAA and the AMA.

The AMA and the FAA intend to work together by openly communicating any questions and needs as they arise. Technology and operating environments are always changing, and thus establishing an understanding of the nature of the cooperative working relationship between the two organizations is critical to meet the mission needs of the FAA and the AMA.

Agreements

The Academy of Model Aeronautics agrees to:

· Develop, establish, and maintain a comprehensive safety program to educate and
direct its members in how to safely operate model aircraft in the NAS.

· Develop, maintain, and enact appropriate guidelines, procedures, and operating
standards for its members responsive to the minimum safety criteria established in PL
112-95 and implement the AMA Safety Program to include the PL 112-95 Enactment
Standards.

· Maintain the AMA Safety Program by regularly reviewing relevant safety data and
updating the program to address any issues that are brought to light by the data.

· Continue to establish appropriate safety guidelines for emergent technologies and
novel facets of aero-modeling activity.

· Provide the FAA with an updated copy of the AMA Safety Program whenever
substantive changes are made, or upon request.

· Foster a positive and cooperative environment within the aero-modeling community
toward the FAA, its employees, and its regulatory structure.

· Serve as a conduit between the aero-modeling community at-large, the hobby
industry, and the FAA in order to provide relevant and time-critical aviation safety
information to all parties.

· Bring issues and questions to the FAA when matters arise related to model aircraft
that could impact the safety of the NAS.

· Maintain Safety Programming documentation on the public section of the AMA
website in order to promote safety throughout the entire aero-modeling community,
even among non-AMA members.

The Federal Aviation Administration agrees to:

· Review AMA’s Safety Program and advise the Academy on safety issues related to
aero-modeling operations within the NAS.

· Educate and inform appropriate FAA field personnel regarding the most current aeromodeling
policies, procedures, and operating standards.

· Address model aviation safety and operational issues through the Unmanned Aircraft
Systems Integration Office, AFS-80. This office will act as a conduit to other areas of
the FAA in order to resolve and address matters of mutual concern and interest.

· Foster a positive and cooperative environment towards model aviation within the
agency’s national, regional, district, and local offices.

· Maintain an open line of communication with the AMA to exchange information and
provide relevant and/or time critical notices regarding aviation safety and airspace
operations.

· Cooperate with the AMA in dealing with and resolving issues of concern to either or
both parties.

Effective Dates

It is understood and agreed by the undersigned that the intent of this MOU is to state shared goals and to establish and maintain cooperation toward meeting these shared goals. This MOU does not create any binding obligation on either party. Each party agrees to conduct its representative activities in a coordinated and mutually beneficial manner. The FAA and the
AMA will evaluate their respective participation with the terms of this agreement periodically and communicate any issues with the term as soon as they arise.

This MOU will be in effect at the time of the signing and may be terminated at any time by either of the signing authorities or their successors. One party or the other must serve the notice of the termination at least ninety (90) days prior to the effective date of that termination, or in the case of mutual consent, with no prior notice requirement.
______________________________ _______________
James Williams, Manager Date
UAS Integration Office
Federal Aviation Administration
______________________________ _______________
Bob Brown, President Date
Academy of Model Aeronautics

 

Expanded ND UAS research expected to grow regional training programs

by Press • 10 January 2014

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

 

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — Last week’s announcement that the University of North Dakota and Grand Forks will be one of six test sites to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the nation’s airspace had officials high-flying not only in North Dakota, but in Minnesota as well.

Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls is a partner in UND’s aerospace program. And its technology-based programs are designed for education as well as development in the fast-growing UAS industry.

Besides its long-running aircraft maintenance training program, which expanded two years ago to include UAS aircraft, Northland now offers curriculum to train students to analyze data collected from drones, whether the aircraft is flying in airspace over hostile countries or hovering above buildings or farm fields in the United States.

The school’s one-year imagery analysis certificate is the first of its kind in the nation. It also offers a two-year associate degree in geospatial intelligence analysis.

The UND-Northland aviation partnership actually dates back to 1998, when UND instructors used UND airplanes to provide pilot training to students in Northland’s longstanding aviation maintenance training program.

The Northland UAS program has been developing since 2010, when Northland received a Department of Labor grant to expand into that field.

Since then, the school has been fostering a UAS partnership with UND and industry leaders by building curriculum and the technology to deliver it.

“Nothing we’ve done in the last 10 years has been done unintentionally,” said Curtis Zoller, Northland associate dean of aerospace programs. “We’re developing a classroom that’s going to redefine the student’s education experience.”

Classroom of future

Students will be introduced to some of that technology when they return to school Monday for the start of the spring semester.

Some classes will be held in interactive, audio-visual classrooms specially engineered at three campuses — the main campus in Thief River Falls, the East Grand Forks campus and at the school’s Aerospace Center at Thief River Falls Regional Airport.

The system, which cost a total of about $750,000 for all three locations, allows direct, two-way communication between an instructor at one location and students in all three classrooms. The sound-activated system automatically triggers cameras to focus on the student or teacher who is speaking, regardless of location.

Each classroom also was specifically designed to provide optimum light and sound quality, according to Zoller.

Northland President Anne Temte said the system provides a substantial improvement in quality, which makes for a richer classroom experience.

“I can see expressions on people’s faces. I can read body language,” she said, speaking from a classroom in East Grand Forks to an audience split between the Thief River Falls main campus and the aerospace center. “And sometimes when you have 12 people in a room showing up on a little, tiny television, you can’t do that. So, I do believe it’s going to enhance communication among our sites and among our personnel. Of course, our top priority is going to be instruction, but we’re all going to get used to this by using it for meetings as well.”

Programs and partners

The system could be expanded to other communities as well, but the cost likely would be $150,000 to $200,000 for each one, depending upon the amount of retrofitting that would be necessary.

“The goal, of course, would be to not only make it expand across the aerospace program and other programs, to expand across the East Grand Forks and the Thief River Falls barrier, but also to allow students to be able to (participate) from their own homes, using a laptop or an iPad or any other tablet device that would be capable of joining from there,” Zoller said.

Other schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system are considering similar technology. And some high schools are working with it, too.

“Throughout Minnesota, there have been some grants that have delivered this kind of equipment in high schools in really rural areas, where the students have not been able to come into a college for the post-secondary options program,” Temte said. “I’m thinking particularly of the Itasca area, where they are sharing some language instruction from colleges to high schools. So that’s another area where there may be some expansion in the future as more sites come on.”

Northland officials also have discussed expanding its interactive classroom concept and training possibilities with aerospace partners, such as Northrup Grumman Corp., the anchor tenant of the Grand Sky UAS Park planned at Grand Forks Air Force Base, according to Dan Klug, NCTC chief development officer.

“This would be a great asset to have as part of Grand Sky, to be used to help grow that aerospace education and training, whether it’s for a traditional Northland student or a customized training opportunity with a company like Northrup Grumman or their customers, whether it be domestic or international,” he said.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/281826/group/homepage/

 

Ohio, Indiana push for place in drone industry

by Press • 14 January 2014

http://www.suasnews.com/2014/01/26968/ohio-indiana-push-for-place-in-drone-industry/?utm_source=sUAS+News+Daily&utm_campaign=85b5d9e08e-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b3c0776dde-85b5d9e08e-303662705

By LISA CORNWELL

 

CINCINNATI — Ohio and Indiana will operate their own test ranges for unmanned aircraft and seek ways of promoting more research and development to attract drone-related businesses after losing in their joint bid for a coveted Federal Aviation Administration test site.

The states sought one of six FAA drone test sites being set up as the agency develops a plan for safely integrating commercial drones into U.S. airspace. An industry-commissioned study predicted unmanned aircraft could produce thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact after that integration, and Ohio and Indiana were among two dozen states hoping that a site could boost their prospects for sharing in any economic boom.

But the FAA last month selected Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

“We were obviously hoping for an FAA designation, but with or without it, that doesn’t change our vision or strategy,” said Chris Ford, vice president of aerospace and defense for the Dayton Development Coalition, which is leading Ohio’s drone efforts.

Ohio and Indiana are moving ahead with their partnership that includes the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center & Test Complex set up last year in Springfield, Ohio, and still developing. It serves as a regional hub operating seven test drone ranges in both states, providing sites where businesses, universities and researchers sites can test unmanned aircraft.

“Companies and others will need places where they can test a little, design a little and then test more,” said Duane Embree, executive director of the Indiana Office of Defense Development, which is leading Indiana’s drone efforts. “We can essentially do everything we were going to do — just without the FAA designation.”

Both states also are counting on their involvement in a NASA competition this spring to increase their visibility among unmanned aircraft developers participating from around the country.

“Places that get recognized early are more likely to attract the businesses,” Embree said.

The center will host the challenge at the Camp Atterbury test range near Edinburgh, Ind., where it will test innovative “sense and avoid” technologies aimed at preventing drone collisions with other aircraft.

Commercial uses for drones are vast. The oil and gas industry can use them to monitor pipelines, farmers can dust crops or locate livestock with drones, and public safety officials can conduct surveillance or monitor damage from natural disasters.

The FAA has until the end of 2015 to present its integration plan, though officials acknowledge it may take longer.

Ohio and Indiana are not the only states continuing testing at existing sites.

“It’s business as usual for us, too,” said Eileen Shibley, director of the California Unmanned Aircraft Systems Portal at Inyokern Airport. But Shibley is concerned that some people mistakenly believe they have to travel to one of the FAA sites to test their aircraft.

Brendan Schulman leads the unmanned aircraft practice at New York-based Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel law firm and says public entities not selected by the FAA still have opportunities and can apply for certificates of waiver or authorization allowing drone operation at specific locations.

“But the regulatory processes can be slow and cumbersome, and the U.S. is trailing far behind several countries,” he said.

 

Sinclair director: Much UAS use will be agricultural

by Press • 13 January 2014

http://www.suasnews.com/2014/01/26955/sinclair-director-much-uas-use-will-be-agricultural/?utm_source=sUAS+News+Daily&utm_campaign=85b5d9e08e-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b3c0776dde-85b5d9e08e-303662705

By Thomas Gnau

 

The director of Sinclair Community College’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program believes many uses of remotely piloted airplanes in the next few years will be in the realm of agriculture.

Andrew Shepherd, Sinclair’s director for Unmanned Aerial Systems, presented an overview of the uses of UAS for Ohio’s agricultural future at the Ohio Farm and Food Leadership Forum in Columbus last month, Sinclair said.

Also Monday, Sinclair said its Workforce Development division has inked a teaming agreement with Columbus’ Asymmetric Technologies.

The agreement will allow Sinclair to collaborate on new UAS technologies with Asymmetric through the college’s extensive course curriculum and use of the necessary Certificates of Authorization (COA), needed to legally operate unmanned vehicles under current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

“This agreement allows Sinclair to leverage our subject-matter expertise and access to our COA in a way that will bring new UAS technologies to market,” Deb Norris, vice president for Sinclair Workforce Development and Corporate Services, said in an announcement. “Creating these types of partnerships that have the potential to bring new technologies and jobs to the region is really at the heart of what we’re accomplishing with this program.”

A forecast at the Ohio Farm and Food Leadership Forum estimated that some 80 percent of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) usage in the United States will be related to “precision agriculture” over the next several years, Sinclair said in a statement.

“With nearly 90 percent of the approximately 75,000 farms in Ohio being individually owned, there is a growing need for the type of innovation that UAS can provide,” Sinclair said.

“The potential benefits for employing UAS technologies in precision agriculture is virtually limitless in a state like Ohio, which has an economy that is very reliant on the success of farming, with more than 110,000 people operating farms throughout the state,” Shepherd said in the college’s statement. “Everything from the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to examining irrigation effectiveness or pest infestation can be performed quickly and result in improved crop yields with less of an environmental impact.”

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration did not select Ohio and Indiana as a region for testing the use of drones. Still, Dayton-area leaders have said the area, with its proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will continue to be a leader in UAS development.

Sinclair offers a one-day course on precision agriculture using UAS. Sinclair has also developed what it says is Ohio’s only UAS short-term technical certificate program, which prepares students for entry-level positions in the industry.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/business/sinclair-director-much-uas-use-will-be-agricultura/ncmJS/

 

Washington Post

Defense companies brace for a different kind of consolidation this time around

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/defense-companies-brace-for-a-different-kind-of-consolidation-this-time-around/2014/01/10/a38e5152-5dec-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

By Marjorie Censer, Published: January 12

 

Years before the company’s legendary merger with Lockheed, Martin Marietta executives were holding secret meetings in a basement, trying to imagine what the defense industry might look like in the years ahead.

Starting in the mid-1980s — a decade before the industry-altering deal — Norman R. Augustine, the chief executive of Martin Marietta, gathered three of his top executives together every Friday. The group snuck out to his basement, only a short trip from the office, where they convened over sodas with a rotating cast of specialists in areas such as policy and Wall Street interests.

The owners of Cause had hoped to turn a $100,000 profit — for charity — their first year. That didn’t happen.

Augustine and his most senior executives suspected that the landscape for defense companies was about to change significantly, following the Reagan-era build-up in military spending.

Expenditures at their current levels at the time seemed unsustainable, Augustine reasoned. “We didn’t know what the right answer was, but one thing we knew was you were going to need money to do it,” he recalled.

So Martin Marietta started stockpiling cash, he said, saving up enough to help it survive the most significant contraction in the history of the defense industry, and merge with California-based Lockheed in a deal that not only reshaped the industry, but also shifted its center to the D.C. area.

There are noticeable similarities to the 1990s in today’s market: A major build-up has come to a stop with the end of two wars, and the industry is seeing a spending slowdown.

But analysts and experts warn that 2013 is not 1990, and industry adaptation will look very different this time around.

Rather than the mass consolidation of the largest contractors that occurred two decades ago, these observers expect more rearranging of parts and consolidation at lower levels, particularly among the services companies that have proliferated over the past decade.

“Twenty years ago, defense consolidation was mainly about getting bigger,” said Loren Thompson, an industry consultant with ties to many of the largest contractors. “Now, it’s about getting more efficient, about getting more focused.”

 

Looking backward

The 1990s is a storied era in defense contracting, when companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing saw their prominence cemented through major acquisitions and mergers.

Simply put, Pentagon contractors went through a massive round of consolidation. By the calculation of John Dowdy, who leads McKinsey & Co.’s global aerospace and defense practice, the number of U.S.-based prime contractors dropped to six from 16.

The giants also consolidated their power; in 1991, the top 10 global defense companies made up less than 40 percent of the revenue of the top 100. By 2000, the top 10 companies controlled 60 percent of the market, according to Dowdy.

The changes were perhaps even more stark at lower levels. Of the top 100 companies in 1991, only 19 still exist today.

At the same time, the D.C. area became the center of the defense contracting industry. Even though the Lockheed Martin deal was described as a merger of equals, Martin Marietta got to its Bethesda headquarters.

“The vast majority of defense companies were located away from Washington, D.C., prior to the 1990s,” Thompson said. “The emergence of Lockheed Martin as the major company created pressure on all the competitors to be close to the customer.”

But the intensity of the consolidation that occurred two decades ago makes it hard for many to imagine a similarly robust round today.

“The industry is actually so consolidated … there’s very little room for prime-level combinations that won’t run into serious anti-competitive issues,” Dowdy said.

So far, the Pentagon has made clear that it welcomes acquisitions — but not among the biggest of the big. Even abroad, those deals have been unsuccessful. London-based BAE Systems and Paris-based European Aeronautic Defence and Space’s bid to merge in 2012 ended unsuccessfully because of the concerns of their foreign government owners.

The Defense Department already has a limited number of suppliers when it comes to some weapons systems; in combat vehicles, for instance, there are just two U.S. manufacturers.

Still, some see it as inevitable, given the rapidly declining Pentagon budget. Not only is defense procurement down, but there’s little certainty that new major programs — the combat vehicles, fighter jets and missile systems that spur billions in research and manufacturing — are moving forward.

The defense industry “only has one customer that matters,” Thompson said. The “opportunity for sustaining a broad-based industrial complex in a period of declining demand is not very good.”

 

Budget pressures loom

Despite the potential limitations on consolidation, there are growing signs that companies are bracing for change.

Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman made what was largely considered the last deal in the previous round of consolidation, picking up TRW in 2002 to cement its spot as one of the biggest of the big. The deal capped off years of major acquisitions, including Newport News Shipbuilding.

But less than a decade later, Northrop began taking apart the massive company, first selling off its advisory services unit Tasc in 2009 to address potential inner-company conflicts of interest, and then in 2011, spinning off its shipbuilding business, which is now known as Huntington Ingalls.

Northrop’s moves predated the more recent spinoffs and separations by government contractors. McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. last year split itself into two companies: a technology business focused in areas such as national security and health, and a government services business.

More recently, Exelis announced it is spinning off its government services unit into a public company, following in the steps of L-3 Communications, which spun its government services unit off into Chantilly-based Engility in 2012.

Dowdy said many companies are taking a hard look at businesses that didn’t require as much attention in the previous decade.

“We had 10 years of year-on-year defense budget increases,” he said. “When the budget just keeps going up, up, up … strong businesses do well, OK businesses do well and even poor businesses do well.”

These early deals are setting the stage for a defense industry reshaping. Many existing companies are simply too large and bulky to be bought, pushing them to spin off or sell units. Companies can shed divisions that are no longer profitable or fit with their portfolios and find complementary capabilities in another contractor’s unwanted units.

In particular, analysts say, the opportunity is greater for services companies, which have proliferated in the past decade as the government increasingly relied on contractors to provide federal labor.

It’s early to speculate on who might be bought, but Thompson pointed to Northrop, a leader in reshaping already, as a potential target. (Northrop declined to comment, noting that it does not participate in industry consolidation or acquisition stories).

 

Lessons learned

Even though reshaping this time around is likely to be quite different, there are lessons from the 1990s on how to come out on top.

Augustine, who made sure his company was a buyer, not a seller, credited preparation.

By the time it was clear to many companies consolidation was coming, “we already had a leg up because we had saved a bunch of money and we pretty well knew what we were going to do,” said Augustine, who went on to eventually serve as chief executive of Lockheed Martin.

When contractors approached the merged company about potential acquisitions, its executives already had a binder on each business with its financial data, products and leadership, he said.

“We were ready to make decisions,” Augustine said. “We could tell you tomorrow whether we were interested.”

Dowdy, too, said the aggressive movers are likely the ones who will survive a reshaped defense market.

“One of the very clear lessons is move early to win, and the opposite of that is hunker down … You can’t just say, ‘I’m just going to last this out,'” Dowdy said. The companies working “to push their margins up and start cleaning up their portfolio are, I would argue, the ones who are going to come out the other side.”

Thompson said that those who lead the merger wave “get to pick and choose.”

“You go later, you get the leftovers,” he said.

Even though a downturn appears bleak to many contractors, Augustine contends that it provides a real opportunity to put together a better company.

“In the good times, we never could have built Lockheed Martin,” he said. “None of these companies would have been for sale.”

 

Defense News

Pentagon Seeks To Protect R&D Funding in ’15 Budget

Jan. 11, 2014 – 03:45AM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER and ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS |

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140111/DEFREG02/301130009/Pentagon-Seeks-Protect-R-D-Funding-15-Budget

 

WASHINGTON — Senior Pentagon leaders are trying to protect vulnerable research and development (R&D) funding in the fiscal 2015 budget plan, despite desires within the military services to put money toward other near-term initiatives, according to Defense Department officials and sources.

While DoD’s 2015 budget plan is still in flux, the tension over R&D funding has arisen at different points through the arduous process of building the spending plan and has been on the radar of top DoD officials, these sources said.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — after reviewing budget proposals from the military services late last year — ordered each to go back and find about 15 percent more money for their R&D projects, according to several sources with knowledge of the decision.

The move is an early indicator the Pentagon leadership is backing up its tough talk about the need to protect R&D spending, much of which is used to develop new technologies for future weapons.

“Secretary Hagel has placed a high priority on research and development to ensure that the United States maintains its competitive edge for the future,” a senior defense official said. “Simply, losing our edge on capability particularly in the out years would make force planning all the more difficult and just put future forces at risk.”

While an emphasis on R&D funding may be good for industry, the impact will vary depending on where the funds are directed, said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.

“It really depends on what level that money is targeted,” Callan said. “If it’s going to basic research, that’s great for the labs and universities. If you’re just throwing more R&D money at things like the Ohio replacement program, or the JSF, that’s helpful to the industrial base.”

R&D spending accounts bore the greatest percentage of Pentagon’s sequestration cuts in 2013 since DoD leaders opted to shift money into operations and maintenance accounts. The upcoming fiscal year 2015 budget provides one of the first opportunities for Hagel to make strategic choices and build a budget that fits within the mandates of the $521 billion budget cap.

Sources said the 2015 budget proposals drafted by the services had included a high concentration of funds in the operations and maintenance accounts in an effort to reverse some of the damage done to military readiness from sequestration.

Hagel, in consultation with DoD’s acting R&D chief Al Shaffer, told the services to go back and boost R&D accounts 15 percent above the proposed levels, the sources said.

 

In 2012, the Army spent $8.7 billion on R&D, the Navy and Marine Corps spent $17.7 billion and the Air Force $26.3 billion. Those numbers were fairly flat in the president’s 2013 budget request, but dropped for 2014 to $8 billion, $16 billion and $25.7 billion respectively due to sequestration budget caps.

Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall has predicted R&D spending would continue to bear the brunt of defense budget cuts and expressed concern the continued pinch on R&D could threaten US tech superiority and harm the industrial base.

“I’m particularly worried about sustaining technological superiority over time and what deep cuts to R&D are going to do to that,” Kendall said.

The military services are aware of this issue, “but they have near-term, recurrent missions they have to perform at the same time that they’re trying to live within these budgets, so there’s tension about all of this, obviously in our planning,” Kendall said.

“I’ve spoken to the secretary about this and others in senior leadership, but at the same time, we have the constraints that we have and we’re trying to do the best we can to balance out all the different needs that we have.”

Over the past year, as Pentagon R&D funding has been pinched through sequestration, Kendall has strongly encouraged industry CEOs to protect company-funded development projects.

Callan said that an effort to bolster DoD R&D spending might be a sign that efforts to convince industry to increase investment aren’t working.

Even with the cuts, DoD is still investing more in R&D than almost every country in the world, said Gordon Adams, who oversaw defense budgeting during the Clinton administration and is now a professor at American University.

“We are at no long-term risk with respect to our technological capabilities,” he said.

 

Columnist argues for abolishing Air Force

Jan. 12, 2014 – 06:00AM |

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140112/NEWS/301120004/Columnist-argues-abolishing-Air-Force


Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft perform an aerial demonstration. A guest columnist for the Boston Globe has proposed abolishing the Air Force to save money.

By Jeff Schogol

Staff writer

 

The Air Force just cannot shoot down the idea that the government could save money by getting rid of the service.

During a speech in September, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh spoke passionately about how the roughly 143,000 service members who are part of the other services’ air arms cannot fulfill all of the missions carried out by 690,000 active-duty, Guard and Reserve airmen.

“I’m getting really frustrated with hearing over and over again this comment about ‘Why do we need an Air Force?’ ” Welsh said at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference. “You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re not past that yet?”

“There is one Air Force in America and you’re it,” he added. “So let’s shoot this one in the head.”

But a guest columnist for the Boston Globe has proposed doing precisely what Welsh says is anathema to national security: abolishing the Air Force.

 

“The wind-sock has shifted,” James Carroll wrote in a Jan. 6 column. “Instead of tinkering around the edges of a bloated, unaffordable, and often ineffective national security establishment, the time has come for a major reinvention — starting with the Air Force. Off it should go into the wild blue yonder.”

Carroll could not be reached by press time. His piece relies heavily on arguments made by Robert Farley, author of the upcoming book, “Grounded: The Case For Abolishing The United States Air Force.”

Farley told Air Force Times that he is arguing the Air Force should be merged with the Army and Navy, not firing all 690,000 airmen. This move would allow the military as a whole to shrink by eliminating redundancies among the services.

Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky, thinks the military should go back to how it was structured before the Air Force became an independent service. Ultimately, such a move would curb how often the military would be used, he argues.

“As far back as the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, [civilian policymakers] have found air power too attractive because of the promise of relatively cheap, relatively efficient war,” Farley said in a Jan. 8 interview. “Putting the Air Force back into the Army creates more perspective with respect to what war really costs and what the prospects of war really are.”

However, retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, former commander of U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, said it is “foolish” to think the Air Force can be absorbed into the Army. “In terms of needing to have a separate air arm that focuses on air power, it’s proven to be extraordinarily effective,” said Barno, now part of the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

The Air Force declined to discuss this issue beyond what Welsh has said publicly.

In December, Welsh said at the American Enterprise Institute that the Air Force allows ground forces to attack — and protects ground forces from enemy air attacks. “Since the Korean War, this nation has deployed about 7 million men and women at arms to different contingencies around the world, and tens of thousands of them have died there,” Welsh said. “None of them have died as a result of enemy air attack. That doesn’t happen by accident.

“This requires an Air Force. The Army and the Marine Corps, the Navy cannot do this on their own, not for a theater-size event. They can do it over their organic units but not to support a theater commander. That’s why nations have air forces.”

Retired Gen. Charles Horner, who led the air war during Operation Desert Storm, said those who advocate getting rid of the Air Force do not understand that there are times when one service needs to take the lead in the fight.

“The Army is so parochial about the basic concept of what war is, they think war is where armed forces clash on the battlefield,” Horner said in a Jan. 9 interview. “War can take all kinds of forms and in some wars, like Desert Storm, the preferred way of resolving the issue is to avoid clashes on the battlefield because they induce large casualties.”

The other services don’t have the Air Force’s expertise to take over Air Force missions, said retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Wald.

“Would you hire a dentist to do brain surgery?” said Wald, former head of U.S. European Command.

The Air Force will never be eliminated because it is “the most indispensable of all the services,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a senior scholar at the Air Force Academy, in a Jan. 9 email.

 

“The [column]exhibits no comprehension of joint doctrine; why each of the services are required because of the time dimension required to learn how to master control of the domains of land, sea, air, space, and cyber; or the potential of air operations to minimize casualties in achieving national security objectives,” he said.

 

 

1/10/2014

Gates vs. Air Force Round Two

By Sandra I. Erwin

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1371

 

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ much-talked about memoir includes a chapter in which he relives bitter clashes with Air Force officials over nuclear weapon screw-ups, drone deployments and funding for the F-22 fighter aircraft.

The showdown culminated in June 2008 with the firing of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. In the memoir, titled, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates dubs the Air Force one of his “biggest headaches” during his time running the Pentagon.

Moseley, for his part, has not released any tell-all books, but did speak recently about the issues that sparked those notorious feuds with Gates. During a talk last month hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute, the now retired general suggested that, in hindsight, Gates made poor equipment-buying decisions that are now coming back to haunt the U.S. military.

Speaking at the Mitchell forum, where Wynne also was in attendance, Moseley said the shutdown of the F-22 program “will prove to be one of the most strategically dislocated decisions made over the last 20-25 years.”

A decorated fighter pilot and an ardent advocate of high-performance aircraft, Moseley fought to keep the F-22 program alive but could not overcome the political headwinds. The Air Force in the mid-1990s envisioned it would buy more than 700 airplanes from manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp., but rising costs compelled the Pentagon in 2001 to reduce orders to 295. By fiscal year 2006, the budget proposed by the George W. Bush administration funded just 187. Congressional supporters kept the project going until 2009.

Gates, with the backing of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., led the Obama administration’s effort to stop funding the F-22 in fiscal year 2010. The last aircraft ultimately was delivered in 2012. In speeches and congressional hearings during his tenure, Gates consistently bashed the F-22 — estimated to cost nearly $200 million apiece — as a symbol of extravagant spending on weapons that were conceived to combat the Soviet enemy but were no longer relevant in the fights against Islamic extremists or guerilla warriors like Hezbollah. He pointed out that China would not be able to field an advanced fighter jet until 2025 and by then, the United States would have hundreds of next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in the inventory. Gates also blamed expensive weapons such as the F-22 for draining resources from wartime priorities, such as unmanned drones and armored trucks.

Moseley conceded the program initially was too large and expensive, but insisted that, had the production line stayed open, the price would have dropped considerably. “We didn’t, and still don’t need, a thousand of those things. But you need the right number.” Several of the United States’ closest allies would have bought F-22s and helped lower the cost, he said. “The last airplanes we took delivery of were $87 million,” said Moseley. “Had we been able to go to another multiyear [contract] there was an understanding that we would be able to get them for $85 million,” he added. “Find me an airplane out there right now that costs $85 million and has that capability.”

Tight budgets were not the real reason why Gates terminated the program, he said. “The money was there. … We spent $50 billion on MRAPs [mine resistant ambush protected] trucks. We spent a large amount on unmanned aerial vehicles for every private first class and corporal,” Moseley said, and immediately added, “I’m being a little facetious but not much.”

The money was available, but the determination to kill the F-22 was driven by other factors, said Moseley. “Knowing what I know now I would have been more aggressive in protecting that airplane and the building blocks of 5th generation systems into the future.”

Another contentious issue that deepened the rift between Gates and the Air Force was what the secretary characterized as “foot dragging” in buying and deploying UAVs to war zones. He was convinced that Air Force leaders were intentionally slowing down drone procurements to ensure that there was sufficient funding for their prized fighter jets.

During a question-and-answer session at the Mitchell forum, Moseley said there is no intentional bias against unmanned aircraft in the Air Force. There is a place for both manned and unmanned, he said. “Secretary Wynne got tired of hearing me say this when we were beaten up about not going all unmanned.” The reality is that there are few instances when the use of unmanned aviation is imperative. “One is when you believe the threat is so terrible that you’ll lose the human,” he said. “I believe the Air Force has never found that threat. We will penetrate any threat. We haven’t found a place we won’t go. So I don’t buy that one.”

The other is when human pilots are the limiting factor to the persistence of the machine. “I got that one,” said Moseley. “You leave the plane out there for 30 hours on a reconnaissance mission. That’s a valid one.”

According to an excerpt of Gates’ memoirs published by Military Times, what triggered the dismissal of Moseley and Wynne, more so than the F-22 and the drone flaps, were incidents of mishandling of nuclear warheads and sloppy procedures for overseeing such sensitive weapons.

“I took no pleasure from the dismissals,” Gates wrote. “I enjoyed working with both men, but I didn’t believe they really understood the magnitude of the problem. … There would later be allegations that I fired the two of them because of their foot-dragging on ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], or more commonly, because we disagreed on whether to build more F-22 combat aircraft, or on other modernization issues. But it was the Donald report that sealed their fate.” After the Air Force shipped four Minuteman III nose cones to Taiwan, Gates asked Adm. Kirkland H. Donald to investigate the incident. The so-called Donald Report in June 2008 led Gates to blame the problems on a lack of accountability and held the service’s top leaders responsible.

 

BYOD In Defense Department? Not In This Lifetime

http://www.informationweek.com/government/mobile-and-wireless/byod-in-defense-department-not-in-this-lifetime/d/d-id/1113418

Tim Larkins

January 14, 2014

 

Despite some moves toward securing mobile devices and applications, Defense Department officials do not embrace the bring-your-own-device trend.

Large bureaucracies, whether public or private, have a variety of ways to effectively avoid adopting a popular policy or practice. One way is to make that policy or practice a long-term goal while promising to keep evaluating it periodically.

That’s what the Defense Department has done with its BYOD — bring your own device — policy.

There’s no question that the department has made strides on mobility, enterprise mobile device management, and the use of commercial devices and even General Services Administration contracts. But BYOD?

Here’s what Defense CIO Teri Takai said about BYOD in a February 2013 memo on commercial mobile device (CMD) implementation:

“Despite the benefits, existing DOD policies, operational constructs, and security vulnerabilities currently prevent the adoption of devices that are unapproved and procured outside of official government acquisition.” The memo said that BYOD is a long-term objective and, “in conjunction with the Digital Government Strategy, DOD will continue to evaluate BYOD options.”

Based on public comments from the CIO’s office since then, it’s fair to say that the DOD’s position hasn’t changed. In other words, when it comes to BYOD, don’t hold your breath. Although the department officially holds out the possibility of a future BYOD policy, I don’t see it happening in reality, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Why? The risk of security breaches are simply too great and the consequences too dangerous.

Not a month after the DOD CIO’s office issued its implementation plan, the Defense Department’s inspector general released a tough report on security holes in the Army’s use of commercial mobile devices. Investigators visited West Point and Army Corps of Engineers locations and examined Android, iOS, and other commercial mobile devices in use.

The IG found they weren’t covered by mobile device management (MDM) software, and weren’t subject to remote wiping. Many devices were in use, yet the Army wasn’t even aware of them. Hundreds were purchased by users without authorization in a sort of self-created, unofficial BYOD program.

If the DOD is going slowly in adoption of mobility devices, it’s going more slowly still in BYOD. DOD IT planners realize, as everyone should, that mobility doesn’t equal BYOD. Mobile devices have special — and by now, widely understood — requirements for becoming secure. Two of the most important:

 

Mobile device management. The government has been rushing headlong into mobility ever since former federal CIO Vivek Kundra pushed for it back in 2009. Devices, applications, application stores, and associated pilot projects arrived at agencies before CIO shops even thought about comprehensively managing potentially thousands or tens of thousands of devices. Not until early 2013 did the GSA begin to look for government-wide contracts for MDM and mobile application management products. Without MDM in place, it’s nearly impossible to have strict configuration control, a security must-have. Now the government has gotten serious about MDM. This GSA site lists vendors with FIPS 140-2 MDM and MAM products.

 

Sandboxing of applications. This involves partitioning mobile devices in ways that create virtual machines on them, so that only approved apps can access certain data sources.

It’s not as if policies aren’t in place to help implement mobility in Defense Department components. The IG report mentions DOD instructions (5010.40) covering internal control programs. There’s also a memo that predates Takai’s memo, dating back to early 2011. It has comprehensive instructions on protecting commercial mobile devices.

 

Policy is fragmented

In spite of the best efforts of the DOD CIO’s office, I see the policies toward mobile devices varying widely from one defense branch to next.

DOD doesn’t lack for initiatives to unify policy and practice. The Defense Information Systems Agency has been designated to provide unified technology programs across the DOD and has made some headway. For example, DISA continues to strengthen its role in the Joint Information Environment (JIE), providing 1.4 million users secure access to DOD cloud email accounts. It also created an Army-Air Force enterprise license agreement for Microsoft products.

The JIE is presumably the right place to develop and manage mobility capabilities for individual defense branches and even DOD-wide. But to put it charitably, the JIE is very much a work in progress.

DOD managers can also avail themselves of mobility guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and even the Office of Management and Budget. Yet nothing in the accumulated policy and technology guidance makes a strong case for advancing BYOD as a subset of a military mobility framework, much less compels it.

Contractors seeking to work in the DOD market would be wise not to oversell the idea of enabling any and all mobile devices. Despite the promises of technology, BYOD simply won’t happen in the DOD, at least not in any meaningful numbers.

I know, I know. BYOD situations have broken out in a few civilian agencies. But they have different and often less dangerous security considerations. And let’s not forget about the Snowden effect that’s making every agency nervous about trusted people on its network.

More likely, DOD agencies will establish a choose-your-own-device plan. (Dare I coin a new term, “CYOD”?) Employees, uniformed and civilian, will select from a list of approved devices depending on the flavor each person prefers. But the devices will be government-furnished, delivered with the agency’s configuration and security controls already in place.

Tim Larkins is manager of market intelligence for immixGroup, which helps technology companies do business with the government. He can be reached at tim_larkins@immixgroup.com.

 

AF acquisition chief nominee testifies

By Ed Gulick, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published January 17, 2014

http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/473130/af-acquisition-chief-nominee-testifies.aspx

 

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Dr. Bill LaPlante testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 16 during his nomination hearing to be the next assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

“I’ve spent over 28 years around systems technologies, acquisition programs; touching all aspects of those programs for all services,” he said. “This experience along with my time on the Defense Science Board offers firsthand impressions of Defense acquisition.”

Many of those years were spent at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and eight more spent as the department head for the University’s Global Engagement Department before moving to MITRE as the Missile Defense Portfolio director.

“In all that time I’ve formed impressions and opinions on the challenges of acquisition,” LaPlante said. “I come from a community that desperately wants to make a difference; a community that wants to find the game changing technology needed by the warfighter and get it into production; a community that wants to invent a clever way to do contracting so that we finish a development contract on time — I come from a community that just wants to make a difference.”

During the hearing, LaPlante was questioned by committee members on the time it takes to develop and field weapon systems, the importance of science and technology investment and how to speed up cyber acquisition.

In his response on the importance of science and technology during a drawdown he highlighted how the U.S. military has used technological superiority as an advantage in all conflicts and that the military must continue research or risk losing the advantage.

On cyber acquisition, LaPlante stressed the service must learn what the vulnerabilities are in our weapon systems and work to reduce risks, a task that may sound simple but is actually very difficult. He said resiliency must be built into systems but the time required to design and acquire a weapons system makes that difficult.

“A problem two years ago is not a problem today, and what’s a problem today we couldn’t have imagined two years ago,” LaPlante said. “So, anything that will help us build resiliency and get the compliance part of the system to be much quicker would be very helpful.”

If confirmed, LaPlante will follow Sue Payton who left the position in April 2009. LaPlante currently serves as the principal deputy, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

 

Health Care Turns to 3D Printing

Additive manufacturing gets personal with pre-surgical models — and gets a regulatory thumbs-up.

by Kenneth Wong | Published January 1, 2014

Sheku Kamara, director of the Rapid Prototyping Consortium at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, says he believes additive manufacturing (AM) — better known as 3D printing in mainstream discussions — is “made for the medical industry.”

Whereas traditional manufacturing methods are ideal for high-volume production of parts with standard geometric features, AM can produce one-of-a-kind models of complex organic shapes in low volume. The growing use of pre-surgical models — 3D-printed physical replicas of the cross-sections that must go under the knife — is a relatively new trend made possible by AM’s ability to speedily produce single units for one-time use, custom-built from the CT scans of target patients.

The Consortium’s rapid prototyping hardware setup includes iPro8000, SLA-3500 and Sinterstation 2500plus from 3D Systems; Fortus eT from Stratasys; and Spectrum Z510 from 3D Systems (previously a Z Corp brand, acquired by 3D Systems). Its members are industry-leading names in the medical sector: Johnson & Johnson, Baxter Healthcare, and Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health), to name but a few.

By Kamara’s conservative estimate, more than 50% of the Consortium members own and operate their own rapid-prototyping facilities, deploying inexpensive concept-model printers to high-end machines. But the interest, R&D activities and technology acquisitions only began to pick up in the last four or five years, he notes. The insiders aren’t publicizing what they’re doing with AM because, he says, “it’s a competitive advantage for them.”

Who Gets the Bill?

In automotive and aerospace sectors, manufacturers are increasingly relying on digital mockups and simulation software to circumvent the cost of building and crashing physical prototypes for safety tests. But in the medical sector, tangible 3D-printed models are giving surgeons and physicians an option they’d never had before: the ability to practice and plan computer-guided surgery on a mockup of their patient’s anatomy.

In October 2013, DePuy Synthes CMF (craniomaxillofacial), a division of Johnson & Johnson, launched a new offering called TRUMATCH CMF. It’s a pre-operation planning service for facial reconstruction, orthognathic surgery, distraction and cranial reconstruction. Much of it is powered by AM, according to the company. As the press release explains: “A digital file is translated into a physical object by a 3D printer to create patient-specific surgical guides and occlusal splints. This enables transfer of the pre-operative plan to the operating room, potentially reducing OR time and assisting in the placement of implants.”

Kamara observes that the ability to print out the target region for surgery, with all the nerves and blood vessels in color, and to see where the veins are connected is absolutely huge. “But how can that be quantified?” he asks. “That’s the challenge.” To put it bluntly, who would pay for the print job? At least for now, the question produces more debates than answers.

Bridging Engineering and Life Sciences

Jean Colombel, vice president of life sciences industry for Dassault Systemes, says he believes the medical device industry can benefit from greater collaboration between engineers and physicians, who often speak different languages and use different lingos. (For more on this, read “From Classical Mechanics to Biomechanics,” July 2013.)

“The knowledge about human beings and human bodies is still a partial knowledge,” he says. “How can we get the expertise of the physicians and the case histories of their patients added to the ideas of the engineers? It’s really about getting them to collaborate more, so they can create digital models for simulation.”

According to Colombel, Dassault’s SolidWorks 3D mechanical software is “a leading 3D design tool for the medical device industry.” He predicts that “leveraging 3D as part of medical community will improve communication between doctors and engineers.”

Even though Dassault is primarily a software powerhouse, the company keeps a mini-manufacturing center called FabLabs on its Paris campus. Among the hardware choices at the facility is a pair of Cubify 3D printers from 3D Systems. Priced at $1,299, they target home users and hobbyists with limited CAD software expertise.

The Missing Software

In aerospace, automotive and consumer goods manufacturing, the current crop of mechanical 3D modeling packages serve as concept modelers. But the range of geometry you can produce in them may prove inadequate to address the non-uniform, asymmetrical anatomical shapes medical professionals need to analyze.

“In my opinion, the software is lagging — not just in medical application, but even in consumer goods,” says the Consortium’s Kamara. “In 3D printing, I can print anything. Shape complexity is an advantage. But not so in most of CAD software.”

Detailed humanoid shapes are the domains of high-end character modeling and animation programs like Autodesk Maya, the standard tool for filmmakers and game developers. But the learning curve for such a program may prove too steep even for regular 3D software users. It would certainly be an unfair burden on medical professionals, whose primary job function is not 3D modeling.

At the Consortium, students use Mimics from Materialise and Freeform Plus from Geomagic (a subsidiary of the rapid prototyping machine maker 3D Systems). Both packages offer one crucial function for medical application: You can sculpt 3D models out of CT, MRI and ultrasound data.

From Prototype to Production

Most people consider AM to be a prototyping technology, suitable for creating test models and mockups, not for full production run. But RedEye, a division of Stratasys, defies this generally accepted belief. Medical device projects account for about 15% of RedEye’s business, according to Jeff Hanson, RedEye’s manager for business development.

“Typically, medical companies come to our portal [website] at the prototyping phase,” Hanson says. “Our job is to understand the story of the part: What’s the end use, the intended manufacturing material, the market? If we know those, we might be able to migrate the customer from prototyping to manufacturing.”

In medical device manufacturing, early digital concepts are likely to go through many iterations. Some are minor geometry adjustments; others are more drastic to improve the instrument’s performance. They’re often prompted by findings from lab tests, cadaver tests and clinical trials.

“If [the customer] comes to us during an early concept phase, everything is at risk for change,” notes Hanson. “Maybe the strain release doesn’t work right, a boss interferes with the device’s operation, or the skin doesn’t fit — these are typical design changes.”

For large-volume production of devices that measure bigger than the built chamber of a 3D printer, traditional manufacturing methods are still the better choice. But RedEye has found a niche in low-volume, quick-turnaround production runs, described by Hanson as “in the low thousands.” Often, on-demand 3D printing like RedEye’s services can be the best way to introduce a new product to the market without committing to costly machine and mold setups.

Work in Progress

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies insist on compliance, not just with the medical devices manufactured, but also with the manufacturing processes themselves. To be certified for medical use, the way the machine cures print materials itself is subject to close examination.

3D printer makers have done an admirable job developing print materials that are acceptable for medical use. The Consortium’s Kamara points to the development of polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) polymer, a medical-grade material that can be used with 3D printing and is acceptable for implants, as an example.

Although complying with stringent regulatory requirements like ensuring a sterilized manufacturing environment for implants created in 3D printers is a work in progress, late-breaking news shows encouraging signs. In November, polymer-based cranial implants made with the AM process from EOS became the first of its kind to receive FDA’s 510K clearance.

Tom Weisel, president of medical device developer Arch Day Design, states that he and his team “print instruments and occasionally anatomical parts such as bone sections. It will be nice when the [3D-printing] materials represent bone more accurately.” That would allow them to print, for instance, “a bone with cancellous and cortical sections.”

How soon will Weisel’s wish become a reality? That may depend on how big a chunk of the AM market’s revenues the medical sector is hauling in. “We can’t put in the R&D effort on such materials until we know a return on the investment,” explains RedEye’s Hanson. “We usually wait until the market demand reaches a certain point.”

For the medical industry that has already discovered 3D printing, it’s difficult to ignore the advantages the technology offers. As the Consortium’s Kamara concludes, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures.”

     

 

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/weekly_updates/what_they_told_us_reviewing_last_week_s_key_polls2

Bottom of Form

Saturday, January 18, 2014

With Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s announcement this week that he will resign at the end of the current congressional session, 36 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are now up for grabs in November’s midterm congressional elections. Twenty-one are held by Democrats, 15 by Republicans.

Democrats currently have 53-to-45 majority over Republicans in the Senate, so the GOP needs to hold all its seats and win six more to gain control of the chamber.

Rasmussen Reports jumped into the Senate races this week with a look at the prospective Michigan contest where Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters are running neck-and-neck. Longtime Democratic Senator Carl Levin is not seeking reelection.

Look for our numbers in more Senate races next week and in the weeks to come. We’ll be tracking governors’ races soon as well.

Obamacare will be front and center in most of the Senate races this year. Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters now view the health care law unfavorably, with 42% who have a Very Unfavorable opinion of it.

Democrats have widened their lead over Republicans to four points – 41% to 37% – on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot

Voters continue to express unhappiness with the current Congress. A new report says that for the first time more than half the members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are millionaires, but 70% think it is bad for the country that most members of Congress are this wealthy. However, 65% believe most elected officials get a lot wealthier while in office.

Congress is currently considering a proposal to extend long-term unemployment benefits, but a plurality (47%) of Americans thinks long-term unemployment benefits hurt the economy. Forty-six percent (46%) believe long-term benefits actually increase the number of people who are unemployed.

Fifty-one percent (51%) oppose a plan passed by the Senate and awaiting action in the House that would triple the level of legal immigration over the next 10 years

Speaking of elections, 77% of voters think it is at least somewhat likely that a woman will be elected president in the next 10 years.

Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are seen by many political pundits as the 2016 Democratic and Republican presidential frontrunners respectively, but 48% say they would be less likely to vote for Christie if it is proven that his office retaliated against a local official who refused to support his reelection as governor. 

What does America think of the controversy that some are already dubbing “Bridgegate”? 

As for the current occupant of the White House, his daily job approval ratings have returned to levels seen for most of his presidency after dropping to record lows for several weeks after the disastrous rollout of the health care law. 

The president’s ratings are undoubtedly helped by the optimism Americans generally feel at the beginning of a new year. Consumer and investor confidence ended the week considerably higher that they were three months ago. 

Fifty-six percent (56%) are now confident in the stability of the U.S. banking industry. That’s the highest level of confidence since before the Wall Street meltdown in September 2008.

Still, only 39% of voters now give the president good or excellent marks for his handling of economic issues, while slightly more (41%) rate his performance in this area as poor.

Obama has declared income equality to be his number one issue this year, but 53% of voters consider economic growth to be more important than economic fairness. Thirty-eight percent (38%) rate economic fairness as the more important of the two.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) still consider the president at least somewhat liberal in political terms, including 44% who believe he is Very Liberal. 

Voters are evenly divided these days when asked if it’s better for the country if the best people take government jobs or if they go to work in the private sector instead. Democrats put more value on government work than other voters do.

Americans continue to believe that government workers earn more, work less and have more job security than those employed in the private sector.

In other surveys last week:

— For the second week in a row, 29% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction. A year ago, 36% said the country was heading in the right direction.

Fifty-five percent (55%) still believe American society is fair and decent, but that’s the lowest level of confidence since August 2012.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Americans view North Korea as an enemy of the United States, putting it again at the top of the list of 18 countries periodically tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

Americans continue to view Canada and Great Britain as the nation’s best friends. 

Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans now have gone a full week without paying for anything with cash and coins. That’s up six points from 43% in April 2012.

— The U.S. Mint reports it costs 2.41 cents to produce one penny, but support for getting rid of the one-cent coin is at an all-time low of 29%.

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