"After Success in Fabrication of "Stereolithographic" Models for Wind Tunnel Tests, I Started up in Search of New Challenges."
The CEO of Tokyo Fluid Research, Mr. Hideo Omotani, first worked for Honda Motor.
He was highly valued for his expertise in aerodynamics and took part in the startup of Honda's airplane division.
He worked there for over 20 years in airplane related business.
He was stationed in the U.S. from 1990 to 1993 during which he mainly was involved in wing design for Honda's initial jet prototype.
From 1997 when Honda's Business Jet project went into full gear, he was put in charge of wind tunnel tests.
He learned that in wind tunnel tests, fabrication of the test model took up half of the time.
At that time, wind tunnel models were made by cutting aluminum alloy, but Mr. Omotani focused on the "stereolithographic"
technique of creating models by firing a laser at an ultraviolet-ray reacting resin. He spent three years together
with an importer of modeling equipment and material manufacturers in trial and error and finally succeeded into developing the technology
for producing wind tunnel test models with enough durability to withstand use for tests under actual wind conditions.
In 2007, Honda finished developing its jet and shifted to the mass production stage.
The importance of wind tunnel tests declined, so Mr. Omotani decided to retire and startup up his own business
making use of his know-how and patents in stereolithography.
Mr. Omotani decided that since his was a venture business, he should not limit himself to Japan but should operate globally
throughout the U.S. and Europe. He then found JETRO's overseas support services. In April 2009,
he set up his own website and registered two proposals at the TTPP. He uses the TTPP only when he receives contact mails.
Japanese Temple Multipoint Pressure Measurement Model
Calculate Wind Loads with Pressure Distribution
"I Use TTPP and the U.S.-Japan Business Innovation Center for Global Expansion."
Wind tunnel tests are helpful in reducing air drag and improving fuel efficiency, so are frequently utilized in the automobile field.
By employing "stereolithographic" models, it is possible to reduce the fabrication time to less than one-third that of aluminum alloy models.
The wind tunnel test time also is more than halved. It is therefore possible to simultaneously achieve higher precision, lighter weight, shorter time, and reduced costs.
Mr. Omotani said that the company derives 80 percent of its sales revenue from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
There are three companies in Japan making wind tunnel models. Tokyo Fluid Research was the first one to deliver a stereolithographic model to JAXA.
Further, the company has received an order for a model of a contra-rotating fan through the TTPP from a division in JAXA
it previously did not do business with. At this time, Mr. Omotani was in the U.S. He received the order by e-mail,
designed the fan in the U.S., and ordered fabrication to a manufacturer in Japan. After returning home, he checked and revised the design, then delivered the product.
There are five competing companies in the U.S., but they apparently do not have the know-how in stereolithographic model design.
In November 2009, Mr. Omotani took up residence in JETRO's U.S.-Japan Business Innovation Center in San Jose for three months during
which time he visited NASA and Stanford University and learned his technology can be applied there. Due to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011,
he postponed his plans for one year, but intends to again take up residence in the JETRO facility in 2012 to use it as a platform for entry into the U.S.
According to Mr. Omotani, the TTPP is less known than JETRO, so it should be publicized more in domestic and overseas industries.