Additive manufacturing, or AM, is on a fast path to revolutionizing the advanced manufacturing industry by changing the way companies make products. Whether it is the first FDA-approved, 3-D-printed drug or complex fuel nozzles for airplanes, Ohio is leading the way when it comes to making those innovations happen.
AM, also known as 3-D printing, refers to a number of technologies that build three dimensional objects by layering materials, including metals, ceramics, plastics and, perhaps in the future, human tissue.
“Additive manufacturing will change not only how we make things, but what we make,” says Rob Gorham, executive director of America Makes, the Youngstown-based national accelerator for AM and 3-D printing. “We see opportunities in aerospace, bioscience and automotive that simply weren’t there before this technology began to unfold.”
In late 2015, Team NEO’s Innovation Team — along with America Makes, MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) and the Youngstown Business Incubator — conducted a commercial asset road map study to identify AM opportunities in Northeast Ohio. The study identified 165 companies and organizations directly involved in the AM supply chain, offering significant opportunities to apply AM to the region’s vibrant manufacturing sector. For example, rp+m in Avon Lake has established a global reputation for its ability to engineer and design custom 3-D solutions for companies.
In June, Parker Hannifin Corp. announced plans to open a new state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing learning and development center in Macedonia. The facility will serve as a center of excellence where Parker engineers can explore new applications for AM and collaborative robotics.
In the lower part of the state, we have the GE Additive Technology Center, known for innovating the world’s first “hot section” turbine engine part, a fuel nozzle for its latest commercial airframe power plant entering production this year. Also, Cincinnati is home to Cincinnati Incorporated, maker of the Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine that has been one of the key enablers to the concept of printed automobiles and other large structures.
These assets along with many other private and public organizations that are innovating and developing this emerging technology – including Battelle Labs, Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Labs, NASA Glenn Research Center and many of our colleges and universities – make Ohio a center of excellence for AM.
Next generation of AM talent
As AM continues to grow, so will the need for the next generation of talent.
Ohio is unique in the fact that our state offers so many AM programs. This will help attract and retain younger talent interested in 3-D printing innovation, and we have the major companies who will be looking to hire them.
Case Western Reserve, Youngstown State University, Cuyahoga Community College, Lorain County Community College, the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering all have programs in AM.
In addition, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College just announced a partnership with GE Additive to grow the employment base in the additive industry. Relying on a $393,000 grant from the federally funded LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) and guidance from GE experts, the Workforce Development Center at Cincinnati State created a certificate program for 3-D manufacturing technicians.
Overall, GE plans to invest $10 million over the next five years to develop pipelines of future talent in AM — a sign that this is an industry just getting started.
From Crain’s Cleveland Business
Written by Glenn Richardson