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America Makes’ 3D Printing Hub Opens at UTEP – Advanced Multi-material 3D Printing on the Way?

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am1To borrow a phrase of Republican Front-runner Donald J. Trump, “Let’s Makes America Great Again”. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or somewhere in between, there is no denying that one of the ways to make this country great (I’ll leave the ‘again’ part out since I still think it’s great) is through the incubation of new jobs. One way to do that is to bring manufacturing back to our shores.

One such entity trying to do just that is the national accelerator for additive manufacturing and 3D printing, America Makes. Through their initiatives, America Makes seeks to transform education, the economy, and business communication via a “public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources.”

In order to do this, the organization, based in Youngstown, Ohio, needs to spread their wings, expanding throughout the country via satellite sites. Back in May it was announced that one of these satellite sites would be at the University of Texas at El Paso’s (UTEP) W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation. The Keck Center, which was founded 15 years ago is now home to over 50 3D printers, not to mention they have millions of dollars in grants as well as numerous patents related to additive manufacturing to their name.

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This last week, after three months of planning, the UTEP satellite has finally opened, and will hopefully act as a model for future America Makes satellite sites across the United States.

“We’re looking to extend geographically, we’re looking to extend technically, and we’re looking to have a more significant national impact,” Ralph Resnick, founding director of America Makes told the El Paso Times. “We see this as a win-win situation for both of us, being able to both grow our capabilities and maximize the opportunities.”

What makes this opening so exciting is that the Keck Center has been working diligently, and with much progress on a 3D printing system capable of printing with both plastics and metals, using a single machine.  The machine will am4eventually be used for the fabrication of complicated aerospace components, and they hope it will also be able to robotically place electronic components within items.  Such a printer could have far-reaching implications within dozens of industries, as manufacturing would be consolidated as well as automated. Through this new partnership, America Makes will now have an employee stationed at the new center and the two organizations will collaborate on research and much more.

“All of the opportunities in the 3D printing industry require our students to leave El Paso,” explained Ryan Wicker, the center’s director. “As part of this effort, we especially look forward to leveraging this relationship to generate an entirely new and innovative industry in our region built around 3D printing.”

By working together with educators, businesses and researchers, America Makes hopes to accelerate the development of advanced manufacturing technologies. This week’s opening is only the start, as the organization hopes to open satellite centers throughout the country, creating jobs, sharing research, and hopefully speeding up the development of these amazing technologies.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this partnership and what it may mean for the future of manufacturing in the U.S. Discuss in the America Makes forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Source: El Paso Times]

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