Economic Development

America Makes Kicks Off Workshops, Tech Meetings

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The country’s additive manufacturing community converged at Stambaugh Auditorium Monday to kick off a week of meetings hosted by America Makes, the first of the Obama Administration’s national advanced manufacturing hubs.

“There’s a lot of activity, and we’re drawing a lot of key stakeholders and leaders in additive manufacturing into Youngstown for this week,” said Ed Morris, vice president and director of America Makes.

Some 120 engineers who represent interests with a stake in America Makes are participating here in the week-long conferences, while another 40 are enrolled and will participate through teleconferences, he said.

“These are principally the people who want to use or are using the technology,” Morris said. Additive manufacturing is a process that uses 3-D printing technology to create a part or component. “It’s a really broad cross-section of our members – public and private,” he said.

Representatives from the U.S. departments of Defense and Energy, the Food and Drug Administration and NASA, for example, are attending the events this week, he said. Corporations such as General Electric and Lockheed Martin will also attend as will smaller companies and materials suppliers to the additive manufacturing subsector.

On Monday, America Makes, along with the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, met with additive manufacturing interests to review a draft of the group’s Standardization Roadmap for Additive Manufacturing, Morris said. “We’ve identified over 100 gaps of detailed technical standards and specifications,” he said.

The Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative, an organization composed of America Makes members and nonmembers, is developing these new standards, Morris said. “They’re developing a roadmap for the standards and specifications that we desperately need for additive manufacturing to accelerate in the United States.”

These address all aspects related to additive manufacturing, including materials, processes, inspection methodology and design, Morris noted.

Scott Deutsch, America Makes spokesman, said that the groups won’t be developing new standards this week, but rather begin a dialogue that would drive standardization in the additive manufacturing sector.

“In additive, there are multiple processes, all kinds of material, and there’s different needs with different expectations,” Deutsch said. “We want to develop some standardization that all the industry can use.”

Today, the group will review progress on America Makes and update its members on several programs awarded funding. “All day, we’ll have a program review,” Morris said.

To date, America Makes has awarded more than $100 million toward research and development of additive manufacturing technology projects that include both public and private collaborations, Morris said.

“We’ve got several success stories,” Morris said. One, he emphasized, involves a partnership between Youngstown State University, the Youngstown Business Incubator and Columbiana-based manufacturer Humtown Industries that accelerates the use of additive manufacturing in the foundry industry.

The Wednesday session involves more in-depth technical discussions and updates on six major projects, two project close outs and a review of recent project awards, he said. This session is geared toward technical and research professionals and is open only to America Makes member organizations.

“We’re at 177 members and steadily growing,” Morris said of America Makes. Among the more recent members are the U.S. FDA and the Federal Aviation Administration, he noted. “The medical field for additive manufacturing is huge,” Morris observed.

Thursday’s conference is a mix of different meetings, Morris said. These encompass America Makes’ maintenance and sustainability committee, an update on a major quality and methodology project, and a workforce and education group.

One benefit of coordinating these events is that America Makes members can meet face-to-face and share new ideas and technologies, Morris said.

“This is the second face-to-face meeting this year with AMS, but there’ve been lots and lots of teleconferences,” he said.

Pictured: Ed Morris, Ed Morris, vice president and director of America Makes.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.