NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.
CRG will evaluate a 3-D printing method that makes use of slurry-based thermoset resins to fabricate thermal protective systems. CRG will partner with NASA centers to test and evaluate the material’s performance in flight-relevant environments, utilizing NASA facilities and experts at Johnson and Ames.
Other companies involved in these space technologies include Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
The Dayton Business Journal posted an article about CRG’s zoning approval to commence a battery manufacturing process at its new facility at 8821 Washington Church Road. CRG acquired the property in January, 2020, and it added 126,000 square feet of manufacturing or production space, 36,000 square feet of warehouse space and 12,000 square feet of office space.
“The [zoning] decision will enable CRG to outfit a 2,000-square-foot space inside the building to develop batteries for the Department of Defense that are approximately the size and thickness of a credit card,” said Jeffrey Bennett, CRG’s Vice President of Operations. “Five to eight of them will be put together in a pack, so it will be about the size of a deck of cards. It is then incorporated into body armor for troops on the ground.”
Upon completion and renovation, the new facility will be CRG’s third location in the Dayton region.
CRG announced today the formal launch of its Venture Studio. The CRG Venture Studio will be in charge of identifying and prioritizing commercial opportunities coming out of CRG’s innovations and then creating new startup companies.
CRG has established a successful track record of commercializing new technologies, spinning off five companies over the past 15 years, including Spintech Holdings and Advantic. However, as CRG’s founder and CEO, Patrick Hood said, “The breadth and depth of technology and inventions that CRG’s employees have created over the years is mind-boggling. We needed a methodical way to more rapidly tap that potential for the benefit of future medical, consumer, and industrial customers as well as to more effectively grow the value of the business.”
The CRG Venture Studio is dedicated to identifying CRG’s most promising commercial opportunities and spinning off new companies to bring those innovations to market. “We investigated a lot of options, looking at the state of the art in business accelerators, incubators, studios, and other concepts for improving the odds of successful technology commercialization,” said Chris Hemmelgarn, CRG’s Chief Revenue Officer. “While we know there will be some lessons and pivots, we are confident we are on the right track to unlock an enormous amount of company value and societal benefit from the Venture Studio… we think we have already identified the next five new startup company opportunities.”
Collaborators within Southwest Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including The Entrepreneur’s Center (TEC), are enthusiastic about CRG’s Venture Studio. “We are excited to work with CRG and its Venture Studio to translate ground-breaking defense technologies into broader commercial use,” said Scott Koorndyk, CEO of TEC. “This is a huge boost for the region’s ecosystem and a great opportunity for new high-tech companies to take root in the region.”
HEATCON®, Inc., a world market leader in composite repair solutions and material supply, has entered into an agreement with Cornerstone Research Group to license CRG’s Deployable Isolation Repair Technology (DIRT BagTM) products for manufacture and distribution.
“This new product is a game changer for those working in repair technology, and we are excited to partner with CRG to bring the DIRT BagTM to the composite repair market,” said Eric Casterline, President of HEATCON. “This product is an ideal complement to Heatcon’s portable composite repair equipment, further reducing the time needed to complete a repair.”
The DIRT BagTM is used by both military and commercial aircraft repair organizations, is listed in Boeing structural repair manuals and the F-35 General Use Consumables List (GUCL), and can be used for other applications where contamination control is needed. It can be set up in minutes and customized for each repair or coating removal situation.
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.