YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The last time America Makes hosted a two-day instructional program on additive manufacturing, the event drew about 20 people.
On May 12, as another class convened, the number hit its capacity of 28 attendees, and more are expressing interest about learning the fundamentals of the process and how it relates to the future of their business and industry.
"We'll have to do this again in the near future because quite a few were turned away," said Howard Kuhn, an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the program's course instructor.
"It's very popular," he says. "It provides individuals with a grounding in what the additive manufacturing processes are and what the problems are."
America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the pilot program for the Obama administration's plan to establish a network of manufacturing hubs centered on research and development in a particular discipline. The institute was launched two years ago, and has since achieved international attention.
Some of the attendees already have experience in 3-D printing, Kuhn said, while others know very little about the subject and want to learn more. "A wide spectrum. Some of them are here to learn the basic ideas, some of them already use the machines and want to know how to make it better."
The course touches basic technologies used to produce additive manufactured parts, Kuhn reports. "We cover the machines, the materials, and how to design for those various processes," he says. "And along the way, what we cover is that everything always doesn't work the way you want it to."
That means there will be defects in your part or process, and an important part of the two-day seminar is to know how to address these problems, Kuhn elaborates. "That's always a popular part of this, they always want to make sure they're doing things right."
Mike Hripko, deputy director of workforce and educational outreach for America Makes, said the two-day course attracted individuals from across the country. "There are folks from Texas here, all over," he says.
There were also local attendees looking to sharpen their skills related to 3-D printing.
"We're looking to learn some things that we otherwise would not have been able to learn," says Brian Alls, co-founder of Bravura 3D LLC. The new company leases space at the Oakhill Collaborative in Youngstown and wants to supply 3-D printers and tools to industry.
Jessie Tuscano, co-founder of Bravura 3D, said she and Alls attended to learn more specifically about the materials component of the seminar. "We focus on manufacturing new 3-D printers, but also machines that support the 3-D printing industry."
The last program was held in December and proved very successful, Hripko relates, and this session is even more so. While a second one is planned, a third series could also be added this year because of demand
Cost for the course is $1099 per person, and is designed for engineers, technicians and managers interested in America Makes and additive manufacturing.
Kuhn said interest in 3-D printing is growing because the process provides a means to make complicated components through additive manufacturing, in which a part is essentially built from scratch from a specific material, layer by layer.
"It provides a way to make things quickly, perhaps at lower cost, but more importantly it provides a way to make parts that involve a total different way of thinking," Kuhn says.
Combining parts into a single component in one printing is a major step forward, Kuhn elaborates, while artists have found that the process enhances creativity.
"Artists can conceive of ideas that you just couldn't think of otherwise," he says. "So, they're widely attracted to these sets of processes."
Copyright 2014 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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