NEWBURGH, N.Y. (April 16, 2003) - With help from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) and Aerospace Structural Research Corp. (ASR), local inventor Joel LePore is ready to manufacture and sell his innovative “VibPro” vibration resistant wire terminal.
LePore, a former trucker, knew first-hand that wire terminal failure was often the cause of delays on the road. Because trucks and heavy machinery all endure extreme vibrations under the hood, wiring can break and/or come loose. Seeking a solution, LePore invented the VibPro - a vibration resistant wire terminal that is 30 times stronger than a regular terminal.
“For 13 years I drove heavy equipment for the transportation industry. In this business, time is everything,” said Lepore. “Frequently, wiring would short out in our trucks due to intense engine vibrations and eventually the battery wouldn’t take a re-charge. A lot of heavy equipment has this problem since current battery construction involves soldering a thin wire to a cheap terminal.”
LePore figured if he could develop a stronger terminal, able to endure continual vibration, he could sell the device to the trucking industry. He tinkered in his garage and came up with what he felt sure was the right design. However, “garage tested and approved” would not cut it in today’s business environment.
Fortunately, LePore learned about SATOP and the free engineering advice the program offers to small businesses and inventors when he attended the Orange County Chamber’s 2002 Business Expo. Joel stopped at SATOP's table and was so intrigued by the program he filled out a Request for Technical Assistance form on the spot.
SATOP paired LePore with Mike Costen, a principle engineer with ASR, a high tech company providing engineering support services to commercial industry and government agencies. “Joel had an innovative mechanical concept that he wanted to commercialize, but the design wasn’t supported with CAD drawings or research,” said Costen. “I knew that if he wanted to present this product to manufacturers and buyers he would need more stringent tests and analysis.”
This is where ASR was able to help. Costen slightly modified the original design, as well as provided the CAD drawings and detailed analysis that LePore needed when presenting the VibPro to manufactures and trucking industry representatives. ASR also conducted a finite element stress analysis, using state of art tools. “We were able to confirm that Joel’s original design was viable -- in fact, the VibPro can handle over 100 g’s of acceleration and still have an infinite life,” noted Costen.
Lepore has a provisional patent on the VibPro and the prototypes he built and installed have so far operated flawlessly. “I installed one on a farm tractor in Warick, New York and this vehicle takes a beating,” said Lepore. “I can’t think of a better field test than that!”Mike Costen enjoyed working with LePore and SATOP. “This was my first SATOP assignment, but I understand from my colleagues that you never know what you’ll get -- sometimes it’s a tough technical challenge and at other times we simply give advice,” said Costen. “In this case we were able help an inventor who had a sound idea but needed the presentation materials to convince an audience of its viability.
“SATOP is a well organized, well run operation. Ryan McLaughlin [SATOP - NY Engineering Services Manager], my point of contact, was very good at following up and making sure we were communicating at every point along the way,” said Costen.
LePore also has ample praise for SATOP. “I can’t say enough good things about SATOP,” said LePore. “As an inventor, I don’t have the capital to conduct all the research and testing ASR did, so it was a blessing. I’m now one of SATOP’s biggest supporters.”