Cornerstone Research Group is under contract with the Missile Defense Agency to manufacture high-temperature, carbon-carbon composite materials that enable advanced hypersonic technologies. This $7 million contract was made possible by provisions Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) included in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and in FY 2020 Defense Appropriations.
Congressman Turner said, “This contract between Cornerstone Research Group and the Missile Defense Agency will reduce costs, increase production, and enhance performance of maturing high-speed platforms required to counter emerging threats from our nation’s near-peer adversaries.” Read the press release here.
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL’s) Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies Division and the contractor team of Cornerstone Research Group, A&P Technology and CRG’s affiliate, Spintech LLC, conducted research to quantify the benefits of replacing legacy manufacturing processes with novel processes for the fabrication of an 11-foot long, S-shaped engine inlet duct.
The approach replaces the hand applied composite prepreg with an automated overbraid process which applies dry fiber to a mandrel. The very heavy multi-piece steel mandrel was replaced with a light-weight single-piece shape-memory polymer mandrel and the dry braided carbon fiber was processed with a low cost epoxy resin using a vacuum assisted resin transfer molding process. The team completed analysis of the overbraid architecture, fabrication of a shape memory polymer (SMP) forming tool and construction of the SMP mandrel that will serve as the tool during the preform overbraid process.
One of the primary goals of this program is to understand part cost and production time benefits from introducing the new tooling and processing solutions. The final inlet duct will be delivered to the government for further integration into the Aerospace System’s Directorate’s complementary airframe design and manufacturing program. Personnel at the Aerospace Vehicles Division will conduct static ground testing of the integrated braided fuselage and inlet duct structure. Read full article here.
In January of 2020, Chrysa Theodore, VP of Community Relations, was invited to deliver a KEEN Talk at the 2020 KEEN National Conference.
KEEN is a national partnership of universities with the shared mission to educate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset so they can create personal, economic, and societal value through a lifetime of meaningful work. They realize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers need more than just technical know-how; they also need to figure out how to create value for themselves and for others. In other words, they need to understand the business side of their contributions. An entrepreneurial mindset centers around three C’s: curiosity, connections and creating value. CRG looks for employees with such an entrepreneurial mindset.
CRG’s relationship with KEEN began when Chrysa was asked to participate in an industry panel at the 2019 KEEN National Conference. CRG was a natural fit because of the company’s testament to why an entrepreneurial mindset makes a difference. This mindset is critical to any CRG employee’s success. The university partners reacted positively to the 2019 industry panel and appreciated the industry perspective of the need and desire for entrepreneurial mindset in employees.
Chrysa was then invited to give a talk at the KEEN National conference in January, a video of which follows. Her talk focused on how CRG’s corporate culture enables its Level 5 leaders to serve customers’ needs. Level 5 leadership is a term coined by Jim Collins in his best-selling book, “Good to Great.” Level 5 leaders are humble and fearless, a combination of personal humility and professional will. CRG seeks Level 5 leadership in every employee.
For the last decade, CRG has been developing unique subsystem technologies to bring aircraft design and manufacturing back to the Dayton area. Through the hard work of CRG’s newly formed Aerospace Systems Center, they now have multiple aircraft under development. In the past three months, CRG designed and tested two different aircraft platforms, both produced here in Dayton with support from outstanding regional partners.
These aircraft vary in weight from 50 to 1200 pounds and range in size up to a 30-foot wingspan. CRG intends to establish full-fledged aircraft production facilities as the systems currently under development are matured and transitioned.
In 2019, CRG added 31 new employees, for an increase of 48% to previous staff. This was a record percentage increase in one year and brought CRG’s total employee count (excluding affiliates and subsidiaries) to 95. The growth in staff was needed to support a variety of new contract awards. Staff were also added in a variety of technical areas in order to both broaden and deepen the company’s core competencies. In addition, CRG added some key executive positions and a few business staff to support the growing contract base.
In mid-2017 Dr. Patrick Hood, CEO, challenged the organization to double its 2016 revenue by 2019 by focusing on strategic planning, technical and programmatic excellence, and organizational design. CRG achieved 85% growth over this period, slightly less that the original goal, but has positioned the organization for continued growth into 2020 and beyond.
According to Dr. Hood, “The growth we achieved in 2019 was the result of our team delivering strong technically, the addition of key strategic partners to support our efforts, and restructuring our government reimbursement rates so we can be competitive not just in R&D activities but also in production, technical services and in programs where we have large pass-through costs for key subcontractors.”
On the technical front, 2019 saw growth in four principal areas in which CRG demonstrated strong technical results in the past. First, in the field of aerospace systems, CRG was awarded several contracts for which they were able to leverage previously demonstrated technology. Two of these programs required CRG to rapidly design, build and test aircraft with unique capabilities – both of which were successful. Second, in the field of sensor technology, CRG was awarded contracts to develop both garment-integrated and small pod-like biosensors to monitor the health of military personnel and monitor their environment for toxic materials.
Third, CRG’s proprietary high-temperature resin system was successfully used to fabricate structural composites at laboratory scale. The primary value proposition for this material system is reduction in the cost and manufacturing time to fabricate high-temperature composites. Finally, the fourth area of growth was in the design and fabrication of next-generation safe, high-capacity, rechargeable battery technology and the systems that depend on them.
“With the growth we experienced last year and a strengthening sales backlog, we needed to reorganize the company to support further growth. In addition, we’re out of space, so we’ve needed to accelerate our plans for expansion.” Dr. Hood added, “2020 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for CRG.”
On January 31, 2020, CRG made the front page of the Dayton Daily News as it closed on a 60 acre site in Miami Township. Titled “Defense firm adding 250 jobs, ‘actively hiring’ after land buy,” the article covers CRG’s plans to renovate an empty manufacturing building at 8821 Washington Church Road as part of a $10 million expansion.
CRG CEO Dr. Patrick Hood said “This property has the space to expand our development and production capacity as well as plenty of acreage to build out a campus to support additional growth.” Once the new building is fully occupied, the Miamisburg site on Earl Boulevard will be used for composites development and manufacturing. Read the full article here.
CRG was among the honorees selected for the annual Best Places to Work awards for 2020. The company is now ranked with the best employers of our region. The awards are based on a survey of company employees regarding staff engagement, team effectiveness, manager effectiveness and other workplace best-practices. CRG was nominated within the medium-sized companies group (50-199 employees). A dinner announcing the winners will be held on March 19th.
Building its already substantial intellectual property portfolio, CRG and its affiliates were issued five new patents in 2019. These included:
Patent No. 1,0167,379, Hybrid Fiber Layup and Fiber-Reinforced Polymeric Composites Produced Therefrom. This is a method patent for a making a fiber reinforced polymer composite using different types of fiber reinforcement and cured with a no-oven, no-autoclave process, using the exothermic heat generated by the reactive resin.
Patent No. 1,0292,857, Head-and-Neck Immobilization Devices and Related Methods, about an immobilization device for injured patient transport. It’s part of CRG’s ATLIS platform designed to reduce the risk of further injury during transport, particularly patients with head or spinal injuries.
Patent No. 10,344,139, Electrically Responsive Variable Stiffness Polymer, a material composition and method involving a polymer that can vary its stiffness in response to electric voltage. Potential use includes vibration damping devices that can address different frequency environments.
Patent No. 10,385,905, Bonded Hardware Rapid Cure System, a device and method associated with a rapid cure system for accelerating adhesive bonded hardware installation and repair. This is the main technology for Kineticure’s business in the aerospace industry. The device is specifically designed for use in repairing damage to bonded nutplates in certain aircraft.
Patent No. 10,391,684, Cauls and Methods of Fusing Cauls to Produce Composite Articles, a method for using the “Smart Caul” technology used at CRG’s affiliate Spintech to make composites. It’s part of their smart tooling technologies in composite fabrication and is based on shape memory polymer materials.
In January of 2020, CRG established its new Power and Energy Center (PEC). This new center lets CRG focus on rapidly expanding technologies such as advanced battery cell chemistries, cell fabrication, hybrid electric systems, wearable power technologies, power generation systems, advanced energy storage systems, power management, and distribution and conversion technologies.
The PEC already has multiple systems progressing towards procurement and is conducting research for the DoD, NASA and DHS. The rapid successes taking place in this center have led to the company to begin standing up battery cell production at the new facility that was recently acquired.
The PEC team includes electrical engineers, chemical engineers, software engineers and electrochemists led by PEC Vice President, Brian Henslee. Read more about the PEC here.
On January 28, 2020 CRG acquired new facilities located on Washington Church Rd. in Miamisburg Township. Because of the company’s rapid growth last year (48% increase in staff) and growth projected over the next few years, they required more space for offices, production lines and labs. See DBJ Covers CRG’s Plans to Expand.
This new property more than triples CRG’s facility space. The building is fully climate controlled, with a total of 174,000 sq ft. Located on 60 acres, the new facility adds 126,000 sq ft of manufacturing or production space, 36,000 sq ft of warehouse space, plus 12,000 sq ft of office space. This acquisition leaves room for expansion, including space available for additional new outbuildings. Once the new building is fully occupied, the current space at Earl Blvd. will be used for composites development and manufacturing.
CEO Patrick Hood said, “I am excited to have worked with the Dayton Development Coalition, JobsOhio, Montgomery County and Farmers and Merchants Bank to acquire the property on Washington Church Road. This property will be instrumental in our expansion plans. Our team has developed several new technology platforms rapidly reaching maturity and will require space for both production and added business staff. This property has the space to expand our development and production capacity as well as plenty of acreage to build out a campus to support additional growth.”
CRG also recently leased and moved some of its aerosystems projects into 77,000 sq ft in a building next door to their current space on Earl Blvd. In addition, Advantic, a subsidiary of CRG, has moved into 55,000 sq ft of that extra space next door to support its incredible growth. They tripled their staff in the past year.
After some renovation and re-outfitting, CRG plans to begin moving some activities to their newly acquired building in June.