National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Bullen Ultrasonics, Inc., Eaton, Ohio

EVENT: Dayton NASA/FASTLANE Tech Connect

Some of the many products produced by Bullen. Courtesy of Bullen.

The opportunity to consult with NASA Glenn Research Center subject matter experts brought Bullen representatives to Dayton, Ohio, for a Tech Connect event hosted by FASTLANE, a nonprofit West Central Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate led by the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI). Tech Connect events give companies the opportunity to receive up to 40-hours of assistance from NASA experts to find innovative solutions to their specific technological challenges. Bullen learned of the Tech Connect through FASTLANE. “We applied to the program and were excited when they accepted our application,” said Bullen President Tim Beatty via email.

CHALLENGE

Bullen sought NASA’s expertise to help solve an ongoing technical challenge that was impacting the company’s ability to take on new business and control costs for its existing business. Beatty attended the Dayton Tech Connect with three other Bullen employees: Tony Baker, engineer; Eric Norton, director of Technology and Engineering; and Denis Fomin, Tooling and Production Support manager. The team was paired with NASA research engineer Dr. Bradley Lerch of NASA Glenn’s Materials and Structures Division, who drew on his expertise in aerospace materials and structural models to address Bullen’s technical challenge.

CONSULTATION

Bullen produces microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) glass wafers for pressure sensors and for defense and biomedical industries. Courtesy of Bullen.

 

“We jumped right into the challenge with the NASA expert,” said Beatty. “We were able to bring some hands-on products and material to allow Dr. Lerch to see and understand the challenge in front of us.”

Most of the consultation was spent brainstorming a variety of ideas for solving the challenge.  “Dr. Lerch was able to provide several key suggestions that could potentially solve or improve the current challenge,” noted Beatty.

“We were able to get four people to break away for the day
to think
and dream a little bit and get help  with ideas.”
—Tim Beatty, President Bullen Ultrasonics, Inc.

 

SUCCESS

Bullen is the worldwide leader in ultrasonic machining and produces customized ultrasonic machines and tools to machine hard, brittle materials such as glass, silicon, quartz, and ceramic matrix composites. Courtesy of Bullen.

Bullen provides precision ultrasonic machining for ceramic matrix composites for
the aerospace industry. Courtesy of Bullen.

While NASA Tech Connect consultations often lead directly to technical solutions, Bullen’s specific challenge ultimately remained unsolved. Still, the Tech Connect experience was a positive one for the company. Said Beatty, “We were able to get four people to break away for the day to think and dream a little bit and get help with ideas.” In fact, one of the ideas Dr. Lerch introduced that day has actually changed the way the company approaches work. With a little time remaining after the technical discussion wrapped up, the team asked Dr. Lerch to share any “best practices” NASA has discovered to improve innovation, project management, and communication. Dr. Lerch told them about a practice among some NASA groups called No Meeting Fridays—reserving that day for people to accomplish deep work and catch up on projects. “We implemented this at Bullen,” Beatty said, “and it has helped us to use our time more wisely and to set aside time to work on long-term projects.”