While many industries and businesses have been using 3D printing technology for years, it was usually a process reserved for prototyping or R&D departments. But over the last few years a growing number of companies have started to see the value in modern additive manufacturing technology and applications, and they are becoming far more commonly used to produce small run or customized products. This year major global corporations have begun stepping up their interest in 3D printing rather dramatically by buying up major players and investing in new, massive high tech 3D printing facilities. But nowhere can you see the massive growth of industrial 3D printing technology more clearly than on our college campuses.
This month the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh announced a new collaboration with Oberg Industries to find solutions to improve the quality, speed and reliability of additive manufacturing. As the demand for industrial 3D printing technology increases and its use continues to expand throughout industry, research and academia, knowledge gaps and limitations continue to impede its wider adoption. Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Pennsylvania-based Oberg Industries hope that together they can help develop potential solutions or improved technology. They will draw upon Oberg’s wealth of experience with the development of complex tooling, precision machining and metal components, along with Pitt’s active student body and their ANSYS Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory (AMRL).
“This collaboration will link Pitt researchers in engineering, especially biomedical and aerospace, with Oberg’s remarkable fabrication expertise in medical, aerospace, energy, and industrial production. We look forward to wider engagement of faculty experts and students through the collaboration and with Oberg,” said Pitt’s Vice Provost for Research Mark Redfern.
Just dedicated in June 2016, the Swanson School’s new ANSYS AMRL additive manufacturing lab contains some of the most advanced 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology available. The lab is capable of working with a wide variety of materials, including metals, composites, alloys and polymers with applications in virtually every industry. As part of their two year partnership, Oberg will have several full-time employees working at the Swanson School to assist in managing the ANSYS AMRL. The metal and plastic part manufacturing company will encourage their customer partners to work with the ANSYS AMRL on education, training, prototyping, testing, design, and production.
Students at the Swanson School will have the opportunity to work with Oberg clients as well as maintaining access to the lab for their own studies and projects. The students will also have access to Oberg staff and other industry partners to assist with collaborative research projects. The University of Pittsburgh will also work closely with Oberg to bring new students to the school and offer students educational, scholarship, and sponsorship opportunities. Students will also benefit from hands-on industry experience, working closely with industry partners and potential employers.
“The industry is rapidly changing as the technology advances, and customers are increasingly viewing Oberg as a partner to capture the advantages. Through this partnership we’re connecting our customers to Pitt’s expertise in additive manufacturing and a state-of-the-art additive research facility. Together we ask better questions, we discover and learn more, which ultimately advances Oberg’s value to its customers in this new era of additive manufacturing,” said Oberg President and CEO, David L. Bonvenuto.
“The ANSYS AMRL is strengthened by this partnership with Oberg. The value we gain from Oberg who will manage the machines, help students advance their skills, and interact with industry to advance this technology, is phenomenal,” explained Albert To, Pitt AM researcher and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science.
The partnership between Pitt and Oberg was originally funded by America Makes (the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute), the federal government’s additive manufacturing accelerator. The Swanson School has already been granted more than $6 million from America Makes, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, and Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania since 2014. Their primary avenues of research include developing and testing ways to optimize the design and production of manufactured parts. Their goals are to improve the durability of manufactured parts, as well as reducing their weight, cost and environmental impacts. Discuss further in the Swanson School of Engineering AM Lab forum over at 3DPB.com.