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Bucknell SBDC Helps Engineers Dive Head First into Technology

Scuba Line Pulley Designby Shane Cohen & Steven Stumbris

From scuba diving equipment to video mapping systems, medical devices to concrete mixers, the engineers of Bucknell’s SBDC Engineering Development Services (EDS) have helped innovative entrepreneurs design, develop and launch new products.  Innovation, entrepreneurship, invention and design all come together at EDS … just ask Dennis Kaleta, President, Spectrum Diving Equipment, Inc.

Dennis Kaleta loves diving but when it came to using a wreck reel, he knew that there must be an easier way.  Wreck reels are tools used by divers to tether themselves to their boats, providing a guide for their return ascent.  Dennis observed that although commercially available reels performed this basic function, they required constant attention to avoid tangles and to feed the line evenly onto the reel.  They also required both hands to operate, making it impossible to use a camera or to hold other gear.  Dissatisfied with the limitations of these reels, Dennis decided to create his own.

When it came to developing a business plan, securing financing and engineering a prototype, Dennis needed some support.  He contacted the Bucknell SBDC for assistance.  Student consultants and EDS staff helped Dennis perfect the design of the line-leveling mechanism, resulting in smooth operation of the reel and the elimination of one custom component from the assembly.

Based upon Dennis’s CAD drawings, EDS used their fused deposition modeling (FDM) rapid prototyping machine to produce a working prototype of the Reeler.  Over the next year and a half, EDS provided a total of four FDM prototypes of the Reeler, allowing Dennis to improve his design, demonstrate his product to potential customers and retailers and verify the “form, fit and function” of each part before investing in costly injection mold tooling. Over the past two years Dennis has acquired more than $400,000 from funding sources for start up costs and began shipping the Reeler in June of 2009.

In the last year, over 80 clients received assistance in product design, prototype construction and product testing. Through the integrated services of the PASBDC network and our customized New Product Development process, clients are guided towards not just a prototype but a successful business venture. The Bucknell University SBDC EDS is employing several cutting edge technologies to aid clients in getting their new innovations to market as quickly as possible.

Stratasys FDM Prototyping Machine

Stratasys is an innovative manufacturer of rapid prototyping and direct digital manufacturing systems for use in the aerospace, automotive, defense and consumer product industries. Their Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM®) process creates functional parts directly from any 3D CAD program using ABS plastic and can be used directly for rapid production and rapid tooling. Housed in the Integrated Design Manufacturing Robotics Laboratory of Bucknell University’s College of Engineering, EDS uses this tool to provide prototyping solutions to its clients. The rapid prototypes created for the Spectrum Divings Reeler eventually led to the final design which was used to create the molds now being employed for mass production.

“Having someone with engineering experience to sound ideas off of was especially helpful!” – Dennis Kaleta, President, Spectrum Diving Equipment, Inc.

NextEngine 3D Scanner

EDS project manager Shane Cohen analyzes a 3D scan of a model headThe NextEngine 3D Scanner acquired by the College of Engineering in 2009 has advanced the engineering design capabilities of EDS.  The scanner enables quick measurement of complex and organic shapes to speed up design in any 3D CAD modeling software package.  The NextEngine Scanner measures 50,000 points per second with multi-laser precision providing users unprecedented ease of use to quickly create highly detailed, full color, digital models. Clients can provide initial prototypes made from wood, clay, etc. that can then be scanned into the computer.

Once scanned into the computer the model is then transferred to one of the universities 3D CAD modeling packages for design manipulation.  Once those final design revisions are complete the part can then be easily transferred to the FDM prototype machine to obtain a physical prototype.  This streamlines the path to production from the idea stage to the point of final prototype fabrication and in the process can save clients hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Pinnacle ZX Series Laser Engraving and Cutting System

The Pinnacle ZX series laser engraver/cutter is one of the fastest laser engraving systems of its kind available today. The versatile system quickly marks or cuts all kinds of materials including wood, plastic, metals and glass. The large work area of 38 by 20 inches (96 x 50 cm) can also accommodate larger items through front and rear panels for pass-through capability. Applications include engraving, part marking and identification, signage, micro-machining and specialized manufacturing processes.

EDS BMEG graduate student consultant Chris Gabryluk removes a newly cut part from the Pinnacle laser cutter

Unlike rotary engraving where you need to change out tools for each process, the Pinnacle laser engravers will cut and engrave all with a beam of light, saving much set up time. Only text or an image along with an outline to cut out is required. The Pinnacle laser engraver will see the text or image just like a printer sees it. Then when it comes to the outline, it will follow the path to cut it out. Use of the laser cutter can save enormous amounts of time and thus money over the use of traditional and even CNC milling operations. For more information visit our web site,

Client Testimonials:

“Working with the SBDC has been extremely valuable for a small business with limited resources, especially limited R&D dollars. Being able to set up this project with Bucknell’s Engineering Development Services will help get us to market faster and has been a tremendous help.”

Tom Stankiewicz, CEO, Immersimap LLC,  testing the prototype of his Video Mapping System.

“The SBDC pointed out the pitfalls and the strengths. We’re not in the market place yet but I know we would have never gotten to this point without their advice, effort and willingness to provide us prototypes.”

James L. Rutkowski, President, Clarion Research Group (CRG), conducting trials of his new product, the “VeinStay”

“The SBDC was very helpful in making drawings and prototypes. I would definitely recommend the service to other companies requiring product development assistance!”

-Bryan Allinson, Director, Geisinger Ventures

“It is incredibly helpful to know that Bucknell’s SBDC has these technical resources available at no charge. Being able to access the FEA software there gives us the opportunity to engage in new product development at low cost.”

– Allen Thomas, Design Engineer, Shumaker Industries Inc.

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