When Dr. William Mars started his company, battle tank treads were the last thing on his mind. These days, they're at the forefront of his thinking.
For the next two years, Endurica LLC
-- the company Mars started in 2008 to help companies predict the fatigue life of their materials -- will be focusing on the tank parts after landing a $730,000 Small Business Innovation Research award to help the U.S. Army examine the rubber components involved. The company, based in Findlay, has developed a patented system that can predict weaknesses in rubber products, their expected life spans and how to avoid failures in rubber parts.
The system, which Mars developed, allows clients like the Army to accurately predict these attributes without having to go through the repetitive process of having a prototype made and tested. It involves several numerical formulae that Mars says took 10 years to develop.
Now, clients can use a computer program to predict the performance of rubber and synthetics, and shave time and cost from their research and development budgets.
"Those processes tend to be extremely costly, producing a prototype and testing it over and over," says Mars. "We allow them to model their product in a huge range of operating conditions, and streamline that process."
For the Army, that could mean eliminating steps along the way that could run into the millions.
Endurica will be examining the track system on the Abrams tank via a two-year, $730,000 grant. Eliminating traditional testing steps could save the military millions, Mars explains.
"For something that big, testing means producing the prototype, putting it on a tank and running the tank for about 2,000 miles. Then, doing it again once you've made an adjustment. That's $2 million every time they test a new version," Mars adds.
While the Army contract allowed Mars to take Endurica from a "nights and weekends" operation to a full-time gig, Mars also expects it to be a springboard for his company. He's already adding full-time staff, and expects to expand further in the coming years with potentially vast client pool ranging from the automotive and aeronautical industries to biomedical companies.
"The Army contract is a validation of our technology, and the value it offers. It's brought us a lot of attention," adds Mars.
Source: William Mars, Endurica
Writer: Dave Malaska