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Boosting metal additive manufacturing in Ohio

FASTLANE logoODSA award to UDRI’S FASTLANE MEP to help manufacturers adopt metal additive manufacturing

The University of Dayton Research Institute’s FASTLANE Manufacturing Extension Partnership, in collaboration with Dayton-area companies Bastech and GE Aviation – Dayton Elano, Unison Industries, has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) to help Ohio’s manufacturers more readily adopt additive manufacturing in their mold-making processes. The two-year grant, administered through ODSA’s Edison Advanced Manufacturing Program, will be used to develop and share with manufacturers a production-level case study outlining best practices in using metal-based additive manufacturing technologies to replace or enhance traditional metal machining in a variety of applications.

FASTLANE, which serves the West Central Ohio region under the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, will manage the program, said Mary Miller, Manufacturing Growth Specialist for FASTLANE. Dayton-area companies Bastech, which will serve as technical lead, and GE Aviation – Dayton Elano, Unison Industries will serve as program partners. Both companies bring significant expertise in conventional and advanced manufacturing techniques, including additive manufacturing, Miller said.

Additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3-D printing, uses a computer-driven “printer” to deposit successive layers of metal, plastic, ceramic or other material, from a base up, until a solid, three-dimensional object is formed. The design of the form is dictated to the printer by a three-dimensional digital file.

The process offers a number of benefits over traditional machining, where material is removed from a larger block by lathe or other process to sculpt or form a shape, Miller said. “Additive manufacturing is more efficient and produces significantly less waste material than conventional machining. The process also allows for a highly detailed and complex part to be produced as a single unit. With traditional manufacturing, such parts have to be made using multiple pieces that must be assembled, if they can even be made at all.

“In spite of the advantages, manufacturers – especially those in the small- to mid-size range – are often slow to adopt new technologies, such as additive manufacturing, because they lack the data to even know how to get started,” Miller said. “So our goal is to help create a recipe for them. The program will include development and analysis of materials and sample parts, production trial runs and quality control data collection. We’ll see what works best and share real production data on how additive manufacturing technology can greatly improve the performance of the metal molds and dies that are used in injection molding and investment casting manufacturing processes.”

Ben Staub, President of Bastech, said he is “grateful and thrilled” that Bastech will play a significant role in the program. “Being the lead collaborator gives Bastech the opportunity to put our extensive additive manufacturing expertise to work to develop new ways to make better tools. Bastech has more than 21 years of industry experience designing and creating injection molding tools; this is one of our core competencies. The Dayton region, and Ohio as a whole, is a hot bed for advanced manufacturing and leading-edge technology. This project is a blend of both.”

Miller said the Advanced Manufacturing Program was created to support the development of advanced manufacturing technologies and to help Ohio’s established manufacturing companies become more competitive. “Proposals are funded annually, through a competitive process,” Miller said. “Proposals must be submitted by nonprofit organizations that, like FASTLANE, assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers and who will partner with for-profit Ohio manufacturing companies to achieve the goals of the grant. So we’re always interested in hearing from companies who would be interested in working with us to go after a grant.”

Manufacturers interested in learning more about the program and case study, scheduled for release in 2017, can contact Mary Miller at (937) 229-5363.

June 30, 2015


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