Ohio Continues Additive Manufacturing Expansion
A fad is often defined as something that comes and goes. Although its initial impact may be sizable, after the initial rush its effects are quickly forgotten. On the flip slide are products that almost need to earn the respect of users. Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, could probably fall into either of these categories depending on whom you ask. 3-D printing has long been on the radar of manufacturers but it was often in a “someday” capacity, in other words until others established its usefulness and the equipment came down in price it would remain a nice-to-have but not necessary piece of manufacturing equipment.
The Onward March
It’s clear this isn’t the viewpoint of everyone. This month, the University of Dayton Research (UDRI) institute and Youngstown State University announced it received an $8 million award in funding for additive manufacturing research. Awarded by The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, otherwise known as “America Makes,” UDRI and Youngstown State University will use additive manufacturing to assist the Air Force with sustaining aging aircraft by improving fleet readiness and reducing time for maintenance and repair.
Building New Partnerships
A 25-member program made up of members from the university, companies from the manufacturing industry and the Air Force will team up to design and develop new technologies using additive manufacturing and related manufacturing techniques. The group will apply the new technology discoveries to aircraft at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
Generating a Spare
Applications of additive manufacturing will help cut out the middle man and allow the Air Force to obtain out-of-production spare parts for older aircraft. 3-D printing will effectively reduce the need for low-volume production of new tooling and its associated costs by using a 3-D printer to create new parts through successive layers of polymer or through the productions of molds and larger tooling.
Paving the Way
It’s easy to see why awards such as this have the potential to get manufacturers excited for the future. Showing success in endeavors such as the partnership between UDRI, Youngstown State University and the Air Force is an important first step in showing other manufacturers how new technologies can streamline operations and curb costs, making it an exciting time to be involved in manufacturing in Ohio.
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