STEP Tools, Inc. Awarded Phase Two SBIR from U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command

Troy, New York - July 26, 2001-STEP Tools, Inc., the forerunner in developing STEP-integration solutions for the global marketplace, announced today its has received a $750,000 Phase Two DoD SBIR (Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research) Grant from the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command. STEP Tools received a Phase One award in January 2000 to fund the testing of scientific and technical merits of a "Web-based Smart Modeling Environment or WSME", a proposed DoD concept. With Phase Two funding, STEP Tools will further develop the WSME concept to a next-generation environment for sharing ship design and manufacturing data.

"We are very pleased to be moving into the action phase of this project," states Dr. Martin Hardwick, president and CEO of STEP Tools. "It is exciting to play such a pivot role in developing a Web-powered technology that will ultimately enable the Navy to design new ships more quickly, more productively at a much lower cost."

The Department of Defense SBIR program is the largest source of early stage "research and development" funding available in the United States for small, high tech companies. All projects serve a Department of Defense need, and have commercialization potential in both military and commercial markets. STEP Tools retains the intellectual property rights for their innovations.

Web-based Smart Model Environment To Meet Multi-faceted Needs of Shipbuilding

The WSME project will be implemented using STEP Tools' Repository Solution, STEP Database Management software developed by STEP Tools to help companies manage and document design-through-manufacturing processes based on the STEP (Standard for Product Data Exchange) international data format. The Repository incorporates emerging programming standards and toolsets for defining and creating Web applications and services.

Today, most STEP applications read or write complete data sets into data exchange files. In contrast, applications in the Web-based Smart Model Environment will have the alternative of reading and writing to sections of a data exchange file or database. The WSME will include data viewing and management "applets" for the shipbuilding industry including the ship arrangement protocol, the ship molded forms protocol, the ship structures protocol, and the piping protocol.

Most importantly, the WSME will make it easier to build application programs that use large, comprehensive data models required by shipbuilding, because the programmer will only have to understand a certain section of the data model. By making STEP programming easier, the WSME will make it easier for shipbuilders to realize the productivity gains of STEP, which are estimated to save about $8M for a mid-sized boat. Other benefits include a 75% reduction in CAD to CAM communication costs, a 35% reduction in CAM programming costs, and a 50% decrease in CNC machining time.