Orbital Composites, an official Kuka Systems partner, has been selected by AFWERX, a program office at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) that connects innovators across government, industry, and academia, for a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II focused on mobile, autonomous 3D printed drone manufacturing to investigate the technology’s potential to fill capability gaps in the Department of the Air Force (DAF).
Orbital Composites, Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup, reinventing the way composites are manufactured from mesoscale to megascale, by developing proprietary robotic 3D printers, materials, and software. The company’s mission is to create mobile, autonomous, and sustainable composite manufacturing factories via robotic continuous-fiber 3D printing of recyclable materials. The company’s unique and patented capabilities allow it to manufacture products and components out of composite materials, such as carbon fiber, at faster rates, lower costs, higher volumes, and with customization that is not possible with incumbent manufacturing processes.
The AFRL is the primary scientific research and development center for the DAF. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for the US air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 personnel across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.
The AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and STTR process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal-to-award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small businesses, and minimizing bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution.
The DAF first offered ‘The Open Topic’ SBIR/STTR program in 2018 which expanded the range of innovations that the DAF funded. Orbital Composites has already started its journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will potentially strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.