A software solution for a pressing engineering problem

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Dr. Tim Hunter is the founder of Wolf Star Technologies. Launched in 2010, the bootstrapped company has created software that helps engineers take the guesswork out of product testing, while significantly cutting down on the time and cost associated with product development.

Hunter has an impressive resume. The founder holds a PhD in Engineering and served as the Chief Engineer at Harley Davidson for more than two decades. Internationally regarded as an expert on load reconstruction, the product he has developed is the first of its kind to reach the market.

“Most companies developing products use Finite Element Analysis,” Hunter said.

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) allows engineers to predict how a product will react to real world forces, like vibrations or pressure, among other external forces. FEA helps predict when and how a product might break or wear out.

“The well-established technique lets you make three dimensional models of your structures,” he continued. “The problem is that most engineers doing that work don’t actually know the loading on their products. To understand the external loading, what the real world is doing to your product, is a very, very tough thing to do.”

To overcome this problem, engineers often rely on load transducers. These tools convert a force such as tension, compression, pressure, or torque into an electrical signal that can be measured and standardized. The tool can be expensive, and only reveals part of the information needed by the engineer.

According to Hunter, “These devices can cost tens of thousands and up to a half million dollars. But they only measure a subset of the load in a certain direction. If they have very complex loading, they can’t actually measure all of the load happening to their product.”

Wolf Star Technologies solves this problem.

“We leverage all the information inside of their three-dimensional models. We tell them where to place sensors on their models and on the physical parts. Then they measure the responses. We then take those measurements and then back calculate the actual loads. So, we’re turning their parts into actual load transducers,” Hunter said.

The seasoned company is vying for a win in the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest in hopes of introducing the software to a wider market.

“We are solving a fundamental problem in product development. 90 plus percent of people doing mechanical product development need our software. We need to penetrate the market better,” he said.

Unlike many businesses in the contest, Wolf Star Technologies is not looking for funding. “We really don’t need money,” he explained. “I’ve never taken a bank loan or looked for investors. I’ve never needed that.”

Hunter noted if the company did get access to additional capital, it would be used to scale the business by increasing the salesforce.

Wolf Star Technologies has tried to expand its reach by working with a value added reseller network, but the results of the collaboration have been less fruitful than the company hoped. Right now, the company has a core group of internationally known customers who are using the technology in their design labs, and many more who hire Wolf Star to use their software in a consulting capacity.

To learn more about the science behind Wolf Star Technologies, or to connect with the company, click here.

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