Cool Suits
Navy SBIR NX191 - Topic NX19-005
Special Out of Cycle BAA
Opens: April 12, 2019 - Closes: May 13, 2019 (2:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Cool Suits


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems, Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Columbia-Class Submarine Program of Record

OBJECTIVE: Columbia-Class submarines have a higher steel preheat requirement than previous classes. Currently, welders suffer from heat exhaustion (especially during the summer months) and the new Columbia requirement will only exacerbate this problem. Increasing weld times by just a half-hour in aggregate would yield immense productivity gains. Clothing materials that reduce the thermal body temperature of welders while maintaining ergonomics and dexterity will significantly mitigate this issue. Furthermore, this heat reducing material can be leveraged to decrease equipment heat loads and thus increase performance periodicities.

DESCRIPTION: Solutions are sought that provide the thermal control performance necessary to meet the objectives described above for shipyard personnel. Proposed solutions may be new materials with improved thermal control properties, or they may be established materials used in new, creative manners.

Chosen materials and use of materials must increase welders’ aggregate work time by a minimum of 30 minutes and maintain thermal comfort for the worker while performing other shipyard tasks. The material may provide a barrier against external heat, but must not entrap heat on the worker or on equipment when used to decrease heat loads. Wearing of the material as clothing must not hamper worker full freedom of movement and dexterity (i.e., the application cannot require use of an external cooling unit or connections). All materials and use of material must meet all strict fire and safety requirements for the shipyard [Refs 1,2]. Cost and ease of use of material will also be considered when determining viability of a solution.

PHASE I: For the initial 5-page proposal, proposers must provide test results from laboratory experiments, simulations using initial prototype designs, or other relevant documentation to demonstrate that the proposed technical solution is feasible for accomplishing the objectives stated above and will be able to meet the performance parameters set forth in the Description.

In addition, the initial proposal must provide requested information on tasks and costs for each of the four (4) rounds of incremental funding at each Milestone Decision, as described in the Technical Proposal Guideline.

By submitting Phase I proof of feasibility documentation, the small business asserts that none of the funding for the cited technology was reimbursed under the federal government’s SBIR/STTR program. Demonstrating proof of feasibility is a requirement for Direct to Phase II award.

PHASE II: For this topic, proposers must meet the following program requirements for each round to be considered for the next round:

Round I. Prototype Development:  Manufacture a material that can be easily assembled into a functioning prototype and meets the thermal performance requirements. A prototype design and a preliminary early prototype construction will be shown to the Government. A report will be provided to the Government describing material manufacturability, material performance, and prototype design at the end of Round I. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round I shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $250,000.

Round II. Prototype Demonstration of Viability:  The material and design from Round I will be used to produce one or more initial functioning prototypes. The initial prototype will be tested for its thermal control performance in a laboratory or shop room that simulates welder operational conditions. The Government will observe the prototype tests and provide feedback. A prototype performance report and an updated prototype design will be provided to the Government at the end of Round II. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round II shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $500,000.

Round III. Pilot Testing in an Operational Environment:  The prototype(s) from Round II will be evaluated in an operational environment selected by the Government. The operational environment may be at one or more locations and may include multiple tests. Government will attend tests and will provide feedback to the performer. The performer will use operational test results and Government feedback to refine the prototype for continued testing. A fully functional prototype and a detailed report on prototyping test results will be provided to the Government at the end of Round III. As stated in the solicitation, the period of performance for Round III shall not exceed 6 months and the total fixed price shall not exceed $750,000.

Round IV. Operational Test and Evaluation in Multiple User Scenarios:  Additional prototypes from Round III with detailed operating instructions will be provided to the Government during Round IV. The Government or a non-Government partner (under an NDA) will test and evaluate the prototype in multiple operating environments as selected by the Government or the non-Government partner. The performer will assist in these tests and evaluations as requested by the Government. SBIR funding (if available) for Round IV will require non-SBIR government funds included as a 1:1 Cost-Match for any amounts over $500,000. The number of end users and prototypes required, as well as the operational scenarios to be run are not yet defined. Therefore, this option is currently unpriced.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Round IV delivers a fully functional prototype or product with detailed operating instructions to the Government and non-Government partners (e.g., Electric Boat shipyard) for evaluation in real-world environments. This Round IV may result in a limited number of licenses or purchases of the prototype or product to allow for testing in various conditions and by multiple end users. The resulting technology will be of significant interest for commercial welding, hot construction, and athletic wear.


1. Clarification of OSHA's position on FR Clothing for welders,

2. OSHA Welding, Cutting and Brazing,

KEYWORDS: Thermal; Heat; Welder; Comfort