The University of Dayton Research Institute on Wednesday was awarded $3 million from the Ohio Third Frontier to provide specialized materials for use in additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.
UDRI will work with program partners in Ohio and Minnesota to develop aircraft-engine components for GE Aviation, as well as parts and components for ATK Aerospace Structures, Boeing, Goodrich, Honda, Lockheed Martin and Northop Grumman. GE Aviation collaborated with UDRI on the program proposal.
“We expect this program to result in the creation of 30 high-tech jobs in Ohio during the first three years, and 85 jobs after five years,” said Brian Rice, head of UDRI’s Multi-Scale Composites and Polymers division, and program lead for the Third Frontier-funded Advanced Materials for Additive Manufacturing Maturation program.
Additive manufacturing is the process of creating solid objects from a digital file by printing thin layers of material one on top of another. It is almost the opposite of conventional machining, which sculpts or shapes objects by removing material.
The Dayton Daily News in May reported about Ohio’s economic opportunities related to additive manufacturing.
By 2015, the sale of additive manufacturing products and services worldwide is expected to grow to $3.7 billion, up from $1.7 billion last year, according to independent consultants Wohlers Associates. Industry growth is expected to surpass $6.5 billion by 2019.
Three-dimensional printers can use polymer, metal or ceramic feedstock. UDRI’s program will focus on polymers, which is already a major manufacturing industry in Ohio.
“UDRI has developed a highly specialized nanomaterial that will reinforce the polymer feedstock, giving the finished product greater strength and stiffness than non-reinforced polymer,” Rice said. “It also will make the polymer electrically conductive.”
Rice outlined how UDRI’s materials will be used to produce parts and components. PolyOne of Avon Lake, Ohio, will scale up the polymer feedstock needed for mass manufacturing; Stratasys of Eden Prarie, Minn., will support the inclusion of new materials in their additive manufacturing systems; and Ohio-based Rapid Prototype Plus Manufacturing Inc. will use its expertise in additive parts manufacturing to work with Stratasys to print and supply parts to end users.
“We have created an entire supply chain designed to create Ohio jobs,” Rice said.
UDRI will use part of the Third Frontier award to purchase a 3-D printer to demonstrate the technology. UD’s School of Engineering, which recently purchased a similar machine, will provide hands-on opportunities for engineering students to become involved.