We’ve heard many grumblings over the years about how 3D printing/additive manufacturing is at the cutting edge of manufacturing trends, and the Obama administration has expressed a particular interest in using 3D printing technology to create jobs and more on-site manufacturing opportunities in an economy plagued by job loss due to the outsourcing of manufacturing. For those of you who think this is a great idea, there is good news. If you were to guess which state in the US would be leading a project to build an industrial-sized, 200,000-square-foot 3D printing facility, you would probably guess maybe California or New York, right? Right. Well, in this case New York was the winner of a bid to build this large-scale industrial-size job creation site.
On October 5, 2015 Reuters published an article stating that although it has not been officially announced by the state, New York will be investing along with Norway’s Norsk Titanium AS (NTi) in a $125 million facility which will be run as a public-private partnership. In fact, the announcement comes with the groundbreaking scheduled not too far away. Plattsburgh, NY will be the home for the facility, which they will begin building in late October. State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute is involved with the program as well.
This plant is expected to be fully operational, with several dozen 3D printers, by the end of 2016. It will be able to more inexpensively 3D print large components for defense and aircraft industries for far cheaper than current technologies used. Norsk Titanium (NTi) actively sought bids from states, with New York’s bid winning over the others. New York state is actively seeking to expand its economy in the tech sector. (Last July, the state won a $610 million competition to build a photonics research center.)
The deal between the state and NTi appears to have the government owning the facility with NTi operating it. Warren Boley, NTi’s chief executive who was a former executive with Aerojet Rocketdyne, talked to Reuters about the project in July. He also said that the 3D printing plant, which will be 200,000 square feet, will be government-owned but operated by NTi. At the time, Boley did not say where the plant would be located, but other sources have confirmed for Reuters that it’s Plattsburgh, 160 miles north of Albany.
3D printing is known for its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and NTi states that its use of titanium wire can cut costs “up to 70 percent less than current technologies, in about 10 percent of the time.” According to NTi’s website, they work with “a proprietary plasma arc Direct Metal Deposition (DMD) technology” that is “the ultimate in 3D additive printing.” Titanium wire is melted in an argon gas cloud, quickly building up layers that require “little finish machining.” The process costs 50% to 75% less than other manufacturing processes currently used–legacy forging and billet manufacturing techniques–because there’s less machine energy used and less waste produced.
Clearly, this facility will be an important marker for the larger scale turn to 3D printing and manufacturing in the US. Now we just have to wait for New York state to announce this and make it official.
What are your thoughts on this initiative by the state of New York? Let us know in the NY 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.