Developments to Watch
THIS BASEMENT INVENTOR KEEPS FORGING AHEAD
Some guys just can't quit. In the basement of his home in Huntington, N.Y., Grumman Corp. retiree Joseph J. Mele, 70, runs a business called JM Enterprise Co. that is staffed by volunteers, three of them ex-Grummanites over 70. The septuagenarians are developing a new way of forging aluminum and titanium. In Mele's Pullform system, a piece of metal is pulled through a forge and shaped a little at a time instead of all at once. By focusing all its force in one small section instead of trying to shape an entire piece, Mele's forge requires less power than a conventional forge, comes closer to making the desired shape, and produces less scrap.
Bryant H. Walker, a manager of materials engineering at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, says Pratt is too tight on money to fund Mele's effort but is backing his application for a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Pentagon. Says Walker: "We have a lot of confidence in the process."EDITED BY EMILY T. SMITH