Economic Development

YBI Project Gets $1 Million in America Makes Funding

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A nearly $1 million award from America Makes will support a project led by the Youngstown Business Incubator to accelerate research and development of a next generation 3-D printer foundries use to cast metals.

“We’re using the technology to print sand cores, but the current generation of printers is for low volume,” Barb Ewing said. “Our goal is to push this for full-scale or broader-scale production.”

Ewing is the chief operating officer of the incubator.

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced Friday that it had awarded $5.5 million to seven project teams across the country. These teams consisted of partnerships involving private industry, universities and trade organizations. The funds provide $5.5 million in matching funds toward their respective initiatives.

“This isn’t just pure research,” Ewing said of the YBI project. “It’s product development and applied research.”

The effort led by the incubator received $999,107 from America Makes by providing $1.044 million in matching funds. The project team includes Youngstown State University and Humtown Products in Columbiana. Other partners are Penn State University, University of Northern Iowa, Northeastern Iowa Community College, American Foundry Society, Product Development & Analysis LLC, Tinker Omega Manufacturing LLC and the Ford Motor Co.

Stephanie Gaffney, YBI industry liaison, said most of the on-site research and development will take place at the University of Northern Iowa, which owns a Tinker Omega 3-D sand printer. “This research project will help take the product from its beta stage to the final version,” she said.

The premise is to improve additive manufacturing technology related to sand-core printing, Gaffney said. A sand core is traditionally produced from a tool or pattern – that is, a replica of a part or component – that is created from materials such as plastic or wood. Sand is packed tightly around the pattern, forming the contours and shape of the part. Once the pattern is extracted, metal is poured into the sand mold, creating the casting and finished component.

Additive manufacturing enables a sand mold to be “printed” by using software commands. It bypasses the expensive tooling stage altogether.

An earlier award related to the foundry and metals casting industry provided some basis for this award, Ewing said, but emphasized the major distinctions between the two. “That was a different program,” she said of the first award. “That was more about educating industry and outreach. This involves doing the research and work to move it forward.”

More than 1,900 companies in the United States use metals casting as part of their business. “In 2014,” Ewing noted, “there were $37 billion worth of production using metals casting.”

America Makes, based in Youngstown, was launched in 2012 and is the first of the Obama Administration’s advanced manufacturing hubs.

Other project leaders awarded funding in this latest round:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, which will develop 3-D printed core structures for the aerospace industry.
  • University of Texas at El Paso is to research wire embedding in additive manufacturing
  • Wolf Robotics, a subsidiary of Lincoln Electric Co., will explore integrating multi-axis robotics into 3-D printing.
  • 3D Systems Corp. is to develop physiologic-like materials suitable for biomimetic modeling in the health care industry.
  • Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies Inc., which will study 3-D printed lattice structures.
  • Raytheon, which will investigate multi-material 3-D printing of electronics and structures.

With this latest round of projects, America Makes has attracted a project investment portfolio of nearly $100 million from public and private sources to advance additive manufacturing in the United States.

The projects are expected to start in August.

“America Makes and its membership committee are committed to ensuring that the U.S. manufacturing workforce is educated in using AM innovations for our nation’s economic competitive advantage,” Rob Gorham, director of operations for America Makes, said in a statement.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.