The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has established a new Additive Manufacturing Lab on IALR’s campus. Additive manufacturing is expected to play a critical role in the future of manufacturing as the industry is starting to regularly evaluate additive processes and their application to integrate into their existing manufacturing capabilities.
“IALR’s new additive manufacturing training capability is evident that this technology is transitioning from the R&D phase to commercialization,” said Executive Director of IALR, Mark Gignac. “As the technology is starting to become part of the everyday manufacturing world, this lab is taking the technology from being experimental to using it on the plant floor. One of the region’s latest start-up companies in the Rapid Launch Facility, FasTech, has recently integrated additive manufacturing into their capabilities. This localized adoption proves that unique and leading-edge activity is taking place in Danville-Pittsylvania County.”
The additive manufacturing lab’s print farm includes six Markforged Metal X™ (Gen 2) 3D printers and six Markforged X7™ carbon fiber 3D printers. The print farm also includes a wash station and a sintering oven. In the lab, a 5-axis Haas CNC machine is used for post-processing additive parts as well as machining test specimens that will be used for mechanical testing and evaluating material properties. To support that activity, an Instron® electromechanical testing system has also been installed to provide the testing required for additive parts.
The 3D printing is extremely beneficial because it allows manufacturers to go from design to complex metal parts faster, easier and at lower costs. Implementing metal 3D printing can greatly improve business efficiency and agility by getting products to market faster, reducing manufacturing costs and replacing inefficient manufacturing workflows, whether through eliminating the need for detail drawings and machine programming, or drastically shortening lead times that bog down product development processes.
Additionally, the new lab will open the door to new opportunities for collaboration with innovative companies such as Phillips Corporation, who has been instrumental in providing guidance and technical support while developing the additive manufacturing training capability. 3D printer manufacturer Markforged is also exploring further collaboration.