Learning in 3-D

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute recently opened its doors to engineering students at Youngstown State University.

The project is being managed by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, or NCDMM, and is being housed in a facility controlled by the Youngstown Business Incubator on Boardman Street.

The intention of NAMII is to bring additive manufacturing into the mainstream of manufacturing techniques.

Additive manufacturing falls within the same realm of 3-D printing. It is the process of printing out material to make an object based off a 3-D model on the computer. Unlike the typical 3-D printer, the additive equipment at NAMII will not simply be for show. It will allow users to print in a variety of materials, and the parts printed will be used in manufacturing anything from airplanes to dental products.

Scott Deutsch, manager of communications and special programs for NCDMM, said the technology is simply far more expensive than typical forms of manufacturing, but it is NAMII’s intention to change this.

“We are here to make a difference — put additive on the manufacturing on the map,” Deutsch said.

NAMII will not only be felt in the world of manufacturing but also in the Mahoning Valley.

Barbara Ewing, the chief operating officer for the YBI, said she believes that as additive hopefully becomes widespread across the globe, Youngstown will not only be ahead of the rest but a hub for innovation as well.

“Because of where it is located, I think it gives us the opportunity to really be one of the first regions to fully implement additive manufacturing,” Ewing said.

YSU partnered with 20 other universities, with NCDMM leading the team, to create a proposal for the first institute that ended up winning against a dozen others.

Because YSU was a principal partner in this team, YSU students and faculty will have extensive access to the facility.

Darrell Wallace, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, said students will not only be trained with state-of-the-art additive equipment, but they will also be able to network with other institutes, renowned universities and others in the engineering field.

“It provides an opportunity to do research. It provides an opportunity to network, to get internships and co-ops, and, ultimately, jobs,” Wallace said.

The government funding to NAMII is scheduled to last three years, but Deutsch said NCDMM plans for the facility to become self-sustaining by that time.

Although the ribbon cutting for the new facility occurred Sept. 27, it is still undergoing minor renovations and will have new equipment coming in shortly.