An essential measure in promoting greater use of NASA technology is letting potential users know what technologies are available for transfer. This is accomplished primarily by the publication NASA Tech Briefs.
The National Aeronautics and Space Act requires that NASA contractors furnish written reports containing technical information about inventions, improvements and innovations developed in the course of work for NASA. These reports provide the input for NASA Tech Briefs. Issued monthly, the free publication is a current awareness medium and problem solving tool for more than 200,000 government and industry readers.
Each issue contains information on newly developed products and processes, advances in basic and applied research, improvements in shop and laboratory techniques, new sources of technical data and computer programs, and other innovations originating at NASA field centers or at the facilities of NASA contractors.
An example of how Tech Briefs inspires secondary application of NASA technology is the experience of a small firm‹Performance Extremes R&D, Norman, Oklahoma‹producing motorcycle parts. The company was started on the idea of making parts out of carbon/epoxy to reduce weight, but the first fabrication attempts were "pitiful," according to president Larry Ortega, pictured below.
A friend introduced Ortega to Tech Briefs and called attention to an article that detailed a vacuum bagging process for forming composite parts, wherein a part is placed in a vacuum bag, drawn under vacuum with a pump, then heat-cured in an oven. The company bought a vacuum pump and started using the process. It was a partial answer to the company's problem; it produced high quality parts but a new difficulty cropped up: the parts warped after cooling.
Ortega and his partners went to the University of Oklahoma library, searched a number of back issues of Tech Briefs and found another answer: a modification of the vacuum bagging process that made for more even heat transfer. On a third occasion, Performance Extremes found yet another useful technique in Tech Briefs and adapted it to advantage. Larry Ortega no longer has to go to the library to search Tech Briefs; he is a subscriber and an appreciative one. Above is an example of a finished Performance Extremes part, a motorcycle muffler.