Ohio start-up leverages Air Force training exercises for early growth

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A Dayton, Ohio start-up accelerated the research and development process by leveraging Air Force and Ohio State Highway Patrol training exercises to gather information from potential users.

Battle Sight Technologies LLC, or BST LLC, was one of nearly dozen companies that participated in Tech Warrior Ops in April at National Center for Medical Readiness, a Wright State Research Institute Laboratory. The event is part of the new Tech Warrior Enterprise, which is sponsored by the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program, and places developing technologies into the hands of warfighters for evaluation and feedback.

“Getting feedback from those who will eventually use the product is absolutely essential for product development,” said Nicholas Ripplinger, founder of BST LLC.

The company demonstrated its new product, the Marking Appliance Reusable Chemiluminsence, also known as MARC. The product was developed from a patented Air Force material that the company licensed in 2017. Resembling sidewalk chalk, MARC is a handheld, reusable chemiluminescent writing device that will allow warfighters to mark areas in the field. The writing can only be seen through night vision googles.

The material was developed by scientists in the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate who sought to replace the use of one-time only glow sticks. They developed the concept of microencapsulating the chemiluminescent substances and encasing those capsules in a thin layer of wax that can be used for writing or applying the material. The pressure of writing breaks the tiny capsules, causing the chemiluminescent materials to react and create a glowing effect.

A single MARC replaces 20 glow sticks, which warfighters have to carry in their ruck sacks. Replacing glowsticks with MARC also provides nearly a 60 percent cost savings, reduces waste by over 95 percent, and significantly reduces the logistics tail associated with airlifting palates of glow sticks into a deployed location.

“As former Army, I am very excited about this technology,” said Ripplinger. “Instead of having a glow stick which can only be used for signaling, MARC can be used as a communication tool as well. It can save warfighter teams significant time in the field.”

During the Tech Warrior exercise MARC was used during overnight training conducted by Air Force pararescue personnel for just that.

“During the exercise, the pararescue specialists used the product to mark cars that were searched so the following team wouldn’t waste time checking the same car again. They also used it for marking causalities,” said Ripplinger. “The specialists provided invaluable feedback on how we can develop MARC for those situations.”

Currently the company’s main hurdle is standing up manufacturing to a scale that will meet demand of current orders from the Army and Special Operations Command. They have set-up initial manufacturing at The Entrepreneurs Center located at The Wright Brothers Institute’s downtown Dayton location.

While attending Tech Warrior, BST LLC met with both a technology scout from Central Command and with representatives from Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology. The department works to ensure that advanced manufacturing processes, techniques, and equipment are available for reducing DoD materiel acquisition, maintenance, and repair costs. Ripplinger plans to meet with the department again in the near future in the hopes of furthering manufacturing capabilities.

Shortly after attending the event the company was announced as the winner of the 2018 Soin Award for Innovation from the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and Soin LLC.

Any small businesses with an Air Force research and development contract, especially those involved in the Air Force SBIR/STTR Program, may request to participate in the Tech Warrior Enterprise by working with its government contact or by contacting twenterprise@wright.edu.

For more information about licensing Air Force technology, please contact the Air Force Technology Transfer program at (937) 904-9830 or af.techtransfer@us.af.mil.