Frequently Asked Questions
Is QuesTek an independent company?
Yes. QuesTek Innovations LLC is a fully independent Limited Liability Company that is professionally managed by a Board of Directors. QuesTek works with many colleagues and partners in industry, government and academia through specific contractual relationships as they are arise under our numerous projects. As a significant recipient of SBIR/STTR awards and other contracts for material design and technology development services, we bring significant federal government (and other) funding resources to the academic institutions that we work with (such as Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology and many others), as well as to leading material producers, processors, testing laboratories and other commercial firms. There can be many reasons why partners work with us.
How do I purchase QuesTek-designed materials?
Please see buying and using materials and the information provided on this website pertaining to the specific material that you’re interested in.
Does QuesTek provide any application engineering assistance to help me use QuesTek-designed materials for my product or component?
Yes, as practicable and subject to the limitations of our disclaimer. We assist individuals at OEMs, prime contractors, governmental agencies, processors and others who are current or prospective users/specifiers/adopters of our licensed materials and some of our yet-to-be-licensed materials. We’re continuously generating more technical knowledge about our materials, such as additional thermophysical data or different processing variations. Please first refer to the technical information available on our licensee's websites (as applicable) and on this website to see if it addresses your question; if not then feel free to contact us with your question.
Can QuesTek design a material for my organization’s specific need?
Probably (and particularly if its a metal alloy). It’s also possible that our computational models may determine that a desired space for a new material is technically infeasible (which can itself be quite valuable to know). As a global leader in integrated computational materials design (iCMD™) with unique expertise and technology, a deep experience base, and many awards and honors, we can quickly give you a realistic, knowledgeable reply. The time, cost and feasibility of a material design project depends on several factors, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. There can be many reasons why clients choose us, and we look forward to beginning a discussion with you.
Does QuesTek’s Materials by Design® technology apply to materials other than alloys?
Yes. Our physics-based Materials by Design technology, mechanistic models and expertise applies to many materials. We first applied it to steel (one of the most complex of materials, with numerous possible constituents and processing paths), but our fundamental computational building blocks have also been applied to polymers and minerals, and basic research in ceramics and plastics has also been investigated. Please contact us to begin an exploratory discussion about your technical or commercial need or opportunity.
How much time and expense does it really take to design a new material?
We’re focused on computationally designing, developing and inserting materials as rapidly as possible, and our design process itself happens pretty fast. We're very accustomed to demonstrating proof-of-principle during 6-9 month-long SBIR/STTR Phase I projects. The time and cost to then demonstrate a new material at full-scale, qualify it for use, and insert it into production depends heavily on: the cost of constituents; the complexity and duration of production and processing; the degree of statistically-based physical data needed for adoption into technical codes and standards; and other factors. As one example — in less than 6 months we initially designed Ferrium® M54™ and demonstrated that it met property design goals at prototype 30 lb (14 kg) production scale, and in less than 24 months (total) demonstrated meeting design property goals at 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) production-heat, full commercial scale. To minimize project risks and costs to our clients, we’ve developed our proprietary stage-gate design and development process and have an integrated applied focus.
How easily are QuesTek’s materials processed?
Maximizing use of robust, economical, commercial-scale processing paths is a very important focus of our computational material design and invention process. We typically design materials to be produced and processed using commercial-scale processing methods and within potential processing variability. In addition, we've specifically designed some materials to use certain efficient, flexible final processing steps, such as designing Ferrium® C61™ and C64™ to use low-pressure (vacuum) carburization processes that can harden surface (i.e. case) properties economically, efficiently, consistently, and with “dial in” control of hardness profiles.
Why should my organization provide a Letter of Support for a third-party-funded project led by QuesTek, and how does the process work?
We’ve listed a few potential reasons why others support our work on the linked page, as well as provided some background information about the SBIR/STTR process (one common grant mechanism). We’re focused on making real-world impacts and generally don’t propose a material design or technology development project in response to a third-party-funded solicitation unless we obtain critical “Voice of the Customer” input from OEMs, end-users or others. This input is often provided during one or more brief telephone calls (before and during a project) in order to better define key issues and to update you on our technical progress; if it makes sense for everybody, we may suggest one or more brief in-person meetings. You’d join a list of premier organizations, and we work hard to add value on all sides of the equation. If we’ve personally contacted you and requested a Letter of Support, then we thank you and your organization for considering our request.