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Ohio puts spotlight on additive manufacturing

By: Angie DeRosa

December 17, 2012

Additive manufacturing is in the spotlight in northeast Ohio as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute is calling for proposals that are due by Jan. 31.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing or rapid prototyping, is receiving attention since NAMII was established in Youngstown, Ohio, in August, backed by $70 million in funding. The government contributed $30 million and industry contributed $40 million.

It is a pilot institute operating under the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining.

On Dec. 3, the group held an Additive Manufacturing Seminar at the University of Akron to get industry prepared to build teams and get proposals submitted for applied research projects. The overall goal is to get a proposal accepted that would possess full manufacturing capability. The challenge is to get the technology to a place where large industrial companies can feel comfortable using it.

“We are a national institute with regional flair,” said Lisa Camp, assistant dean of strategic initiatives at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Engineering in Cleveland. “We’re looking at teams and asking how do we come together? What does the supply chain look like? Could this [region] become a hotbed for this topic?”

Additive manufacturing is used in the plastics industry for prototyping and low-volume production, but often is viewed as expensive.

The goal of NAMII is to use the regional resources throughout northeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia to make the technology transition.

Timken Co. of Canton, Ohio, for example, has been exploring the viability of the technology. Officials there could look toward 3-D printing as an alternative to injection molding for low-volume production, said Praveen Pauskar, a technologist at Timken.

The lead proposer must be a NAMII member and the proposal team must share at least 50 percent of the cost. The proposal team must include at least one industry organization.