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Pittsburgh International to Develop AM at Innovation Campus

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Throughout the first phase of its $1.1 billion renovation and upgrade project, Pittsburgh International Airport has started several groundbreaking endeavors, from the use of artificial intelligence to the development of a microgrid dedicated solely to the airport.

The next step of that development will come with the creation of the Innovation Campus, which will house a wide array of additive manufacturing companies. The first tenant will be announced Friday, said David Storer, director of business development for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

“We will create a complete, end-to-end ecosystem offering powder, parts, post-production, testing and analysis. Having the entire production ecosystem in one location will create efficiencies in production, post-production and delivery,” he said Tuesday morning at the America Makes’ Members Meeting & Exchange. “It’s really everything that makes up the industry.”

The airport authority currently has requests for proposals to find a master developer for the 195-acre campus and a contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year. That developer will build spec buildings, designed to be flexible to tenants’ needs, Storer added.

Already, the airport has partnered with institutions like Carnegie Mellon University to develop new technologies and methods to improve the airport. The university has used artificial intelligence to determine wait times for Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, allowing for passengers to better plan their trips through the airport. Combined with other technological innovations happening in the city, the Innovation Campus will add a new facet to that work.

“It’s really all about the continuum. The future of this industry is robotics and AI. That’s all already here, so what we’re doing is adding to that continuum and expanding those industries,” Storer said. “There are world-class universities that we have. We’re partnering with them to supply a workforce and pipeline of people that’s needed to support this industry.”

Part of what will make the Innovation Campus attractive to potential tenants, he continued, is its transportation capabilities – cargo lines such as Qatar Air, FedEx, UPS, American Airlines and Condor Airlines have operations at PIT – and connections to the rest of the additive manufacturing, or AM, ecosystem. In his presentation at the America Makes conference, Storer said companies would have access to every part of the additive manufacturing process – from material to equipment to delivery – within a two-hour drive.

“Tenants and clients will realize cost savings from production and storing expensive unused inventory. The campus will provide just-in-time access to raw materials and processes and reduced transportation costs,” he said. 

A white paper, set to be published soon, reports that the campus could reduce production turnaround times by up to 50 days, Storer said.

The Innovation Campus will only build on Pittsburgh International’s ranking as the lead economic driver of southwestern Pennsylvania, he said, and some of the development will make its way toward Youngstown and America Makes.

“We’ve worked with America Makes and others in the industry. This is a global and regional play. This isn’t just a Pittsburgh thing,” Storer said. “We want to develop all the resources that this entire region has to offer and make this a success.”

Pictured: Allegheny County Airport Authority director of business development David Storer announced the Innovation Campus at Pittsburgh International would focus heavily on additive manufacturing.

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Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.