When Nate Bryant thinks back on his time at UNI, it was the hours he spent in the Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) that most prepared him for his current job as a materials scientist at a global firm.
“The thing that’s so great about it is you get first-hand experience,” said Bryant, who graduated from UNI last year with a job offer in hand thanks to his AMC experience. “You find out that the AMC is the driving force of innovation in our industry in general.”
Students like Bryant are one of the main beneficiaries of UNI’s Additive Manufacturing Center – a world-class 3D printing and high-tech casting center embedded in UNI to help keep Iowa’s industry supply chain at the cutting edge. The AMC has also been a crucial component in the US Defense Department supply chain, working with all branches of the military as well as the Defense Logistics Agency.
Fueled by demand from Iowa’s small businesses, the AMC has seen explosive growth in the six years since it was launched, doubling in size three times as it helps keep the state’s manufacturers nimble and competitive.
That work continues this spring when AMC rolls out a fully automated investment casting molding line, integrated into the existing 3D pattern-printing technologies, that will enable faster casting production than ever before.
This will be the only university-based automated investment casting facility in the world.
“Interest in this transformative technology is surging and companies are drawn from all over the world to see what we have in Iowa,” said Travis Frush, Operations Manager at the AMC, which hosted about 900 visitors last year. Among them were companies looking to adopt new technology and students who wanted to learn more about additive manufacturing.
Innovations and technology transfer from the AMC have resulted in Iowa having the highest concentration of 3D sand-mold printers in the United States. In addition, AMC research and development has resulted in an 80 percent reduction in cost of aggregates for 3D printing and the value of final printed cores and molds exceeds $5 million per year. More innovations are planned in 2020 with the primary focus of serving the Iowa castings industry supply chain.
UNI’s Additive Manufacturing Center is located at the Cedar Valley TechWorks facility in Waterloo, Iowa and is operated as a core component of the UNI Metal Casting Center in the Department of Technology.