The Ohio based National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), which is looking to disrupt traditional industry with a one-of-a-kind idea. Well, to everyone familiar with 3D printing, this may sound obvious.
Through the use of 3D printing many objects that would normally be hard to find, or that would otherwise be too costly to manufacture in small quantities, solutions for production can be found.
An example of this is a very precisely sized jet engine lug nut. It rarely needs replacing, and therefore is not likely to ever be mass-produced. In other words the price for replacing the part would go through the roof. 3D printing the part would be an inexpensive solution.
“There is an awful lot of opportunity to use additive manufacturing to come up with a solution. A lot of people have advanced the idea of repair and remanufacturing applications,” says James McGuffin-Cawley, an engineering professor at Case Western Reserve University, who represents the organisation at NAMII governance board.
According to Scott Deutsch, the communications director for the Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (which runs NAMII), the idea isn’t obviously just to apply 3D printing as a niche industry, but to really drive it into the mainstream.
3D printing technology has vast opportunities regarding material and energy savings, which makes it a very appealing way to manufacture for many applications. “The reality is we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to reaching the true potential,” Deutsch says.
IBmag.com did a brief interview with James McGuffin-Cawley regarding NAMII:
IB: Why does it make sense for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute to be located in Northeast Ohio?
James McGuffin-Cawley: Cleveland and Pittsburgh remain the technology belt. If you’re a customer of industrial goods, it’s a pretty seamless region in terms of technological capabilities. And we have an interesting array of companies located in this region: commodity producers, important specialty metals and an industrial base.
IB: How does the institute stand to benefit us as a region?
JMC: It will benefit the regional economy because it will be a vital sector of the national enterprise. Even though NAMII has a strong regional connection, there is that aspect of the network that connects the country.
IB: How can entrepreneurs most benefit from the additive manufacturing process?
JMC: [It offers] low capital cost and design flexibility. Entrepreneurs can produce parts at a reasonable cost when the market is still small. Also, the entrepreneur can farm out production to shops with additive capability. This allows for quick response to fluctuations in demand.
IB: How can manufacturers most benefit from this process?
JMC: Additive [manufacturing] has fundamental advantages that all manufacturers can take advantage of. These include the building of impossible geometries. … The constraints associated with design for manufacturing can be relaxed. It also permits direct production of a complex part that incorporates what would be multiple parts when using conventional techniques
IB: What’s the best way to move additive manufacturing into the mainstream?
JMC: One of the most effective ways is to do it in conjunction with the existing industrial base — inject it into the supply chain as a complement to other manufacturing methods. I think that’s much better for the industrial base, depending on the degree to which they integrate it.