New news comes out of Youngstown, Ohio this week. The city is home to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, now America Makes, and is making strides in establishing the town as a key manufacturing hub in the United States. Youngstown State University, which has already established a close-knit relationship with America Makes, has just cut the ribbon on its new Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing.
The Center houses 3D printing machines from industrial manufacturer ExOne in order to supply its undergraduate and graduate students of its new materials science and engineering PhD program with access to two state-of-the-art, industrial 3D printers. The ExOne M-Flex printer is a 3D metal printer that can print one layer of stainless steel, bronze or tungsten in 30 seconds with a build volume of 400 x 250 x 250 mm (15.7 x 9.8 x 9.8 in.). The university also has an ExOne X1-Lab printer, a unique machine specifically designed for materials research at the educational level. Both units were purchased with university funds, as well as money from Ohio Third Frontier through the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering project.
The new facility will be under the supervision of the university’s newest faculty members. Associate professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Brett Conner, has almost 15 years in R&D with the US military and Alcoa, the world’s third largest manufacturer of aluminum and largely considered one of the worst polluters on the planet. The school’s other new assistant professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Guha Manogharan, is a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University with experience in the field of 3D metal printing. Dean of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Martin Abraham expressed that, not only is YSU the second school with this specific equipment, but that the new faculty will contribute to the university’s role as a leader in the field of additive manufacturing studies:
The acquisition of this new equipment, combined with the hiring of world-class faculty, demonstrates that YSU is committed to providing the resources necessary to create a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing program that will attract the best and brightest students, faculty and researchers from around the world.
The school has already begun to benefit from its ties with the America Makes program, located just four blocks away. Last spring, the YSU STEM college received $440 million worth of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and training from Siemens Corp., the same PLM software used by NASA, Ford, Nissan, Calloway and Lockheed Martin. Former engineering faculty member, Darrell Wallace, was recently enlisted as America Makes’ new deputy director of Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise. Former director of YSU’s STEM College Research and Technology-based Economic Development, Michael Hripko. was also awarded the title of deputy director for America Makes’ Workforce and Educational Outreach program.
YSU has also already begun playing a role in projects through national 3D printing institute. As we covered earlier on 3DPI, the college will be participating with the University of Texas at El Paso to research multifunctional 3D printing for the aerospace industry. YSU will also be working with the Youngstown Business Incubator to bring 3D printing into the foundry industry. These developments all go a long way towards ensuring the university’s role in the developing 3D printing sector in the US, with YSU President Randy J. Dunn saying, “We are committed to establishing a leadership position in additive manufacturing and developing YSU as the best place in the world for educational opportunities on this breakthrough technology.”
You can watch some brief local news coverage of the ribbon cutting below:
With President Obama’s State of the Union urging the development of six more manufacturing hubs across the country, like the one started in Youngstown, the goal is to revitalize manufacturing in the United States. It’s possible that, with some companies like Apple returning factories to domestic soil, that such a return to local production may be possible. If, however, the President is granted fast-track powers to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership deals (dubbed “NAFTA on steroids by opponents) through Congress, it’s possible that such attempts to bring back manufacturing to the United States may be overshadowed by transnationals’ abilities to set up factories in foreign countries with little oversight.