FOR SMALL COMPANIES TACKling a monster-size science or engineering puzzle, supercomputer power is now just a modem call away. Sandia National Laboratories has inaugurated a new business connection called Technology Information Environment for Industry, or TIE-In. The service shortcuts the usual federal red tape. Gaining real-time access to Sandia's awesome computer horsepower requires just a pat, two-page agreement.
Alliant Techsystems Inc. is the first customer to link up. To help the Minneapolis company, Sandia shoots objects into window glass, then X-rays the glass to see how it was affected. As soon as the raw data are captured, Timothy J. Holmquist, a researcher at Alliant Techsystems, can begin analyzing the results from his office in Minnesota. TIE-In labs specialize in areas ranging from welding and environmental information systems to structural analysis and virtual prototyping of manufacturing processes.