Inventors are kooks until they succeed, then they are entrepreneurs. I am still an inventor and very uncomfortable about telling my story. Not having an engineering degree has been a problem.
Software business in the 80's and 90's:
Developed 57 turn key systems for 28 companies. The biggest was Silver Arrow Distributors in Keene, NH. They had over 5,000 products in hard goods and feedstock. The system was an integrated purchasing, receiving, sales, delivery, billing and inventory management in use for 27 years. I had payroll systems for bus companies, school administrative unit, security company and sheltered work shop. An environmental monitoring system that broke out the hundreds of constituent chemicals in daily manufacturing operations to determine pollution generated and pollution credits allowed for over 20 years. Business system for purchasing and selling of recycling products; Fourteen unique billing systems such as collecting and baling hazardous metal waste; Business system for running sheltered work shops and programs. The one to two paragraph history of 42 of my systems is 10 pages with an index.
My personal best was a cost projection for a company with over a hundred million in sales. Their top engineer created a manufacturing model of each production step and interrelated characteristics such as minimum part runs per station; factoring which was the estimated percentage that would pass inspection; and multiple shift cost such as clean up. The quantity of finished goods desired would be entered and the model would work backwards to determine the time and material at each station. Then the materials and labor cost were added and accumulated. The error in projected verses actual costs were reduce by 60%. That paid for my work in the first year. The most complex job had 38 operations, the largest product run: 7,000,000 parts.
The unexpected bonus was we had backed into a knowledge base. After a year's worth of creating manufacturing models, most of the jobs were similar to previous ones. The net effect was the 40 hours/week of cost engineering was reduced to 8 hours/week.
My talent is visualizing motion. I talk to people to understand what the kinds of information are, how it is to be manipulated, its timing and life cycle, and how and when it is presented. Once I can visualize the structure and flow I can quickly type out most of the code; Spending 10-20% of the time writing it and 80-90% making it work.
Van Cor Transmission 1984-2004:
The software business funded thousands of hours of work on the Van Cor Transmission (VCT). I invented new gears and a transmission system that would change speeds under load without a clutch. The applications are high torque, low speed drives. I wrote to 640 company's who made gears and transmission, talked with people in over 200 companies, and visited 5. Long story short; no one wanted new gears; it would cost over $100 million to get the first one to market; the industry was moving away from gears to electric and fluid drives because they were simpler and more reliable then gears. My engineering software output gcode for 5-axis CNC machining. I had build a 4-speed concept model that I carried around in a wooden case and an 8-speed prototype that doubled it gear ratios. That rolled around on a steel cart and took out the rear windshield of my van when I left 2" of slack in the straping. (see www.vancortransmission.com).
A PhD. whose expertise was kinematics told me he could not describe it kinematically. I had discovered how to cut teeth in a cone that meshed with helical gears. More importantly, was figuring out how to use trigonometry on a cones surface. That made programming the engineering and machining easier.
Initially the civilian management of the Army Tank and Automotive Command was interested. They had about 50 engineers. I had my 4 speed concept model but wanted to finish and present my 8 speed prototype. Then nothing, no reply’s or returned calls.
I received patents on the VCT (US #6499373) and VCT2 (US #6543305) in US, Taiwan and a PCT (international). I could not get VCT3 toothed belt/chain patented because the examiner could not read drawings and I ran out of money and credit to pursue. The VCT4 variable worm drive was abandoned, I did not think anyone would be interested. The VCT5 was impossible but I spend over a thousand hours programming and testing to understand why. The VCT6 concept is an acceleration drive that would start at 4:1 gear ratio and accelerate to 1:1 direct drive.
The VCT7 was my breakthrough. The concept has four moving parts that continuously and inherently balance the load with the resistance across all gear ratios. It would take a thousand hours to get the first models made. It is also a new kind of gear. I shelved this work for lack of interest.
I received a patent (US #70077928) on a spool of cable that is unwinds at a rate slower then a vehicle moving forward. An example is unwinding 9 feet for every 10 feet forward yielding a 10:1 gear reduction. The idea was based on seeing a tank stuck in a ditch in Iraqi. A 300 foot spool of Kevlar strap on another tank could pull that tank up 30 feet. I talked to four civilians in the management of the Army Tank and Automotive Command. They would not look at it. They said they already have battlefield recovery equipment and what would they do with that, throw it away?
This was one of the simplest ideas they could have tested. I made a test model and pulled by wife's car out of the snow bank. I could see it was not practical for lightweight wheeled applications. It would be practical for tracked vehicles like Tanks.
I approached other Army commands on an unusual concept involving the dynamics of expanding gases to increase the speed of projectiles and solid rockets. I proposed testing the concept with breech loaded rifles because that method it could be done for less then $20,000. I was not taken seriously.
Fluid separation process 2006-2007:
I started replicating a friends experiment, then thought of something radically different: a mechanical way to separate dissolved fluids. I built a crude machine 10 feet in diameter and 8 feet high that used two electric motors as the only energy input devices. I used salt water and ran over 140 tests with measurable results. Of the last 100, I would get between 7%-14% reduction in salt content, sometimes more. Testing measured the change in electrical conductivity and every 8 to 10 tests I boiled the water away to confirm the measurement.
I needed to build a test bed to fully explore this process and it would take around $250,000. This process could be applied to separating sewage, mine waste, and sweeten oil. I wrote to and talked with representatives of chemical, coal and oil company's with negligible interest and no non-disclosure agreement. The simplest machine close to what I had build with the biggest impact I thought would be the settling ponds in the tar sands region of Alberta Canada. They have a problem with fine clay that takes years to separate. None of the companies I contacted and people I talked to would sign a non-disclosure agreements. That was categorically unacceptable to me and I dissembled this work.
Van Cor Threads: 2004-present:
The conic thread (patent #9080590) is based on the conic gear mathematics using trigonometry to create the thread on a conic surface. Specifically how to plot a spiral on a cone and then hang a thread profile perpendicular to every point on that spiral.
The origin of the wave thread (patent #8858144) was the result of working with a sine wave profile in a conic thread. While writing and debugging the software for the sine wave I realized that it was close to a stack of circles, but that could never be. So I made a stack of circles with each increasing in diameter, each had to have its center offset and those collective offsets followed a helical path. That card board stack was the first wave thread.
Studying the wave thread, I thought about using other shapes, making a stack and rotating them. The centers of wave thread shapes have to follow a helical offset. Stacked concentric shapes that are rotated work on a straight axis and form a concentric thread (Patent #9080591). It will work with any shape except a circle.
And there are two other threads in the works with different properties.
I have talked with angle and venture capitalist. Participated in contests and becoming a finalist in the Mass Challenge. The biggest problem is an unproven technology with no market ready products. That is difficult to quantify and project sales. Products will take engineering and testing. I have engineering software for making these threads. What is needed is product development. Like software, the bugs have to be worked out of each application. There are multiple commercialization paths, some of them will hit.
In 2014 and 2015 I written to 1,400 engineering professors in 2 NH schools and 12 Massachusetts schools, talked with a 100, visited 5 about student projects using the threads and models I could supply. Bottom line, money is the prime directive.
I did work with 5 PhDs. One at UMass in Amherst MA, Arwade Sanjay Ph.D. taught a graduate class on Finite Element Analysis. I did a presentation and six of his students did their class project on the wave thread. This resulted in an intern, JigarKumar Patel, an ME PhD candidate. whose FEA work proved the wave thread is 20% stronger
Francis Kennedy, Ph.D. at Dartmouth College was very helpful with declarations on two of the wave thread patents. There were two other Ph.D.'s who demanded their names and their school names not be used that did some destructive testing comparing 3D printed wave threaded and standard threaded parts. The bottom line, do not use 3D printed parts for destructive testing, to inconsistant. Their were three parts with very strong results I was looking for, but the overall test were inconclusive. Have to use steel.
After to getting the three patents I launched a rocked hub crowd funding campaign. My concept was to create a store for students and engineers to buy files of these threads to experiment with for $1 each for personal use or purchase a commercial licenses. I researched the business editors and one reporter to send the press release to for 468 newspapers. That was all of NH, most of New England, and most US papers above 20K in subscribers. None of them were printed. I did get a columist in the Concord Monitor (NH) predicting failure and an online magazine American Fastener Report did run it. I was expecting 1-2% or 5 to 10 papers. The Associate Business Editor of the Boston Globe said that his readers would not find this interesting. The Brattleboro Reformer (VT) has run most of my articles
Sea Technlogy will be printing an article I wrote. I've gotten 6 magazine articles printed. There will be more articles for industry and trade publication on a regular bases
I want to find people who are in or want to be in specific markets; people who want to use these threads to solve known problems; people who want to play around with it to find other applications; people who can make money with them. I can deliver the technology.
I have been able to work on all these ideas because of the (mostly) unconditional support of my wife Wanda. She said she likes living with an interesting person. I told her next life time, find someone with money.
We have three children: youngest daughter Sara, married to Zachariah(PhD), working on BS in BioChem, deans list, transfered to Smith College for spring semester with full schoolarship; middle son Jared, BS in Physics, working on PhD in Imaging Science at RIT; oldest, Meggan, medical technician at local hospital, married to Eric and they have two children.
I was Jared's Scout Master for 5 years. Jared has been helpful in editing my writing.