Somerset Community College Adds Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

Last week, TEAMM Network member, Somerset Community College (SCC), made the news by winning a new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform (see link at end of post). This week SCC is making news again for being the first college in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to add metal additive manufacturing to its advanced manufacturing capabilities.

SCC is home to many “firsts” as far as Additive Manufacturing is concerned. Last year, the college was the first institution of higher education in Kentucky to offer a statewide certificate in additive manufacturing. AM News reported on it here: Somerset Community College Offers 3D Printing Technician Certificate. The school is a leader in workforce development and in additive manufacturing.

The school selected the OpenAdditive™ PANDA laser powder bed fusion system from Universal Technology Corporation for its training and education needs. The PANDA system is affordable and offers openness in design and operation to enhance instructor and student experience in understanding the laser melting additive process.

The system has been installed and includes processing parameters and powder feedstock for printing in tool steel, stainless steel, and other metals. Peripherals include powder recycling and disposal equipment, post-processing equipment, and onsite training, as an integrated solution for metal AM education.

You can learn more about SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program or visit their YouTube channel, The Additive Guru, with videos dedicated to 3D printing such as 3D Printing Motorcycle Batteries.

Read about SCC’s work on the New NSF Grant for Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform: “In this recent announcement, Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering-Faculty Fellow in Innovation and Techno-Entrepreneurship at Tennessee Technological University, has joined forces with Eric Wooldridge (Principal Investigator) and Elaine Kohrman (Co-Principal Investigator) to create a mobile additive manufacturing platform to aid the future workforces of Tennessee and Kentucky.”

SCC Metal 3D Printing PANDA System
Somerset Community College professor and director of the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Eric Wooldridge explains to students and Curtis Cash, SCC professor of Machine Tool Technology, how the PANDA System operates. The printer is located on the Somerset campus in the MTT lab.

 

New NSF Grant for Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform

A small community college campus located in Somerset, Kentucky is driving state-of-the-art advances in the field of Additive Manufacturing (AM). With the leadership of Additive Manufacturing Professor Eric Wooldridge, the campus offers several AM courses and a certificate, conducts outreach activities to drive awareness, and runs other funded projects including a new metal Additive Manufacturing capability (see resource links at end of post).

ATE PI - Somerset Community College
Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform Team (Left to Right): Elaine Kohrman, Ismail Fidan, and Eric Wooldridge

The National Science Foundation has just announced a new grant award to Somerset Community College (SCC), led by Professor Wooldridge, to establish a Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

In this recent announcement, Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering-Faculty Fellow in Innovation and Techno-Entrepreneurship at Tennessee Technological University, has joined forces with Eric Wooldridge (Principal Investigator) and Elaine Kohrman (Co-Principal Investigator) to create a mobile additive manufacturing platform to aid the future workforces of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Both Wooldridge and Kohrman are professors at Somerset Community College (SCC is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College system). 

In an interview with Professor Wooldridge, he explained that the “Mobile AMP grant is our solution for getting tech momentum around Additive Manufacturing (AM). The more practitioners, users [we have] the more momentum and the more resulting innovations will occur. We’ll be training teachers, companies (through workforce development programs), and, of course, students.”

They want to take students and the entrepreneur-minded to go beyond “printing keychains and trinkets.” This AM training is “getting them used to high-end equipment and advanced design software — additive projects that make something real, solves a real problem, creates a real product,” Wooldridge said.

A key aspect of the Mobile AMP grant is the use of a vehicle with a trailer enabling the movement of  specialized equipment to off-campus sites. This trailer will allow educators to get the equipment safely to schools and locations, optimizing time  and minimizing risk.. The goal “is to add several printers for scaling production and show the capacity for short run production where a person can design something and have 8-10 printers producing products overnight,” Professor Wooldridge explained.

You can keep up with what this new grant project is doing through a new YouTube channel the Somerset team has created: The Additive Guru. They focus on short videos on equipment reviews and best practices, with lab techs and students contributing.

If Professor Wooldridge’s name is familiar, you may remember AM News recently profiled his work developing a 3D Printing Technician Certificate at SCC. Plus, in February of this year, he was part of the Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series, an online webinar event that reaches people around the world. Professor Wooldridge’s lecture focused on his 3D printing technician certificate work at SCC. His lab and accomplishments have been recognized and appreciated by the Governor of Kentucky.

Dr. Fidan, of course, is a regular mention here on AM News for his projects serving the global additive manufacturing community. The most recent includes a new type of 3D printer: Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer (A new printer called the TechBot).

Stay tuned here on AM News in the coming school year for SCC and TTU innovations leading the Additive Manufacturing educational community.

Additional Resources

The Lane Report: Somerset Community College adds metal additive manufacturing technology.

From the NSF Award page: “The overarching goal of the project is to enhance workforce development opportunities in additive manufacturing for high school students, community college students, incumbent workers, and manufacturers in underserved regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. Two courses will be developed to include advancements in powder-based printer and metal printer applications. These courses will be integrated into the existing curriculum for the 3D Printing Technician-Level 1 certificate at the institutions. These courses will cover topics such as improved product topology, metal sintering production, advanced composite materials, and generative design concepts and techniques. Customized curriculum on these topics will also be developed and offered in workshops for high school students and incumbent workers.

Advice From TEAMM Network Members On How To Prepare For RAPID 2019

As one of the biggest 3D Printing trade shows is about to start, AM News asked its members for tips and ideas to help you get the most from the RAPID + TCT event at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan on May 20 through 23. With 6,000-plus registered attendees, over 400 exhibiting companies, and more than 110 conference presentations, there is more than enough to keep you learning new concepts and networking with peers.

There are many compelling reasons people go to the RAPID event each year — mostly, to keep up with the cutting edge changes in 3D printing overall (which are significant on their own), but specifically within medical technologies, metal 3D printing, and the creative, unbelievable artwork, to name but a few. Figuring out how to take it all in is a big challenge with such an enormous tradeshow. Here are ideas to make it manageable.

Dr. Ismail Fidan at Tennessee Tech University highly recommended that attendees get the RAPID mobile app for either iOS or Android. Either one can help you register for conference workshops or peruse the event’s list of 429 exhibitors (at press time).

“Other than educators like me, several industrial and commercial organizations attend so they learn the latest trends and technologies in their specific AM fields. It is a big event and hard to visit all the exhibitors. It is nearly impossible to listen to all the presentations, but with some organizing before you go, you can get a tremendous amount of new knowledge from this must-attend event for almost all STEM educators and practitioners,” he said.

Mel Cossette, Executive Director & Principal Investigator of the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education, said that she has found it helpful to look at the tracks prior to attending and identifying areas of interest. She then looks at the sessions to find the overlap and plan her event time.

“Also, look at the exhibit floor plan to get a sense of which exhibitors are of high interest, mid-interest and maybe not so much and where they are located. I found I could get tied up with exhibitors that I found personally interesting rather than those that I aligned to the tracks/sessions I was attending or planned to attend. This way I got to the ones I really needed to connect with and then visited others as time permitted,” she advised.

Carl Dekker, founder and President of Met-L-Flo suggested that students and young professionals check out the Career Development Forum to hear Tech Talks from additive manufacturing experts who will discuss their current role, opportunities and share their career journey. The forum is an interactive event designed to enhance career development and grow future generations of leaders in the additive manufacturing industry.

You can learn more and register for the annual RAPID 3D Printing event here.

National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers Offers Apprenticeship Webinar

Hiring technicians with the skills required to work in additive manufacturing continues to be a serious challenge for most companies. Thanks to an innovative new registered apprenticeship program for additive manufacturing technicians, manufacturers have a way to develop and enhance their workforce.

In a free webinar on Thursday, May 2, 2019, TEAMM Network member, the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC), will present details about an upcoming, new apprenticeship training program for 3D Printing Technicians as well as other occupational trade apprentice program opportunities.

You can register for the virtual event at the America Makes and RCBI Apprenticeship Works signup page. It begins at 8am Pacific/11am Eastern.

Apprenticeship-Works RCBI
Apprenticeship-Works RCBI

The “Developing Additive Manufacturing Talent through the Apprenticeship Model” webinar will explore:

    • An overview and information on the additive manufacturing/3D printing technician apprenticeship program
    • How an apprenticeship program can improve your recruitment, retention, and succession planning efforts
    • How apprenticeship increases your company’s productivity and improves quality
    • Features of the new AM technician apprenticeship
    • Benefits to partnering with the Apprenticeship Works program at RCBI

Apprenticeship Works — the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) — makes apprenticeships more accessible and affordable for employers, helping reduce skills gaps. This national effort is funded by a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that expands RCBI’s proven apprenticeship model.

According to the website: “Through Apprenticeship Works, RCBI and its team of national partners help companies develop and implement customized, world-class training that combines hands-on, work-based learning with related classroom and online instruction using the highest industry standards, ideal for small, medium and large multi-site operations.”

RCBI is looking for additional partners nationwide to expand apprenticeship opportunities in advanced manufacturing. A primary focus includes innovative pre-apprenticeship programs for women, transitioning military personnel and disadvantaged youth.

There are many occupations to choose from:

  • Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Technician (example outline)
  • Tool and Die Maker
  • Industrial Maintenance Technician
  • Welding Technician
  • Engineering Assistant
  • Assembly Technician
  • CNC Operator and Programmer
  • Electrician
  • Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Die Setter
  • Machinist
  • Press Operator
  • Quality Control Technician
  • Robotics Technician
  • Composites Technician
  • Airframe Mechanic
  • Press Brake Operator

This RCBI programs exists thanks to cooperation with the US Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, under the American Apprenticeship Initiative grant funding. Employers interested in participating in the Group Standards of Apprenticeship and utilizing the related outlines may contact Lucinda Curry at lcurry@rcbi.org or 304.720.7742 (All OJT and related training may be customized to meet employer needs.) This program is available nationwide.

The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI), part of Marshall University in West Virginia, encourages job creation, economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting manufacturing companies of all sizes. RCBI and America Makes, along with other national partners, collaborated on the first nationally recognized apprenticeship for additive manufacturing technicians, launched in fall 2018.

In addition, RCBI offers Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology with 3D Printers through its Design Works labs and is a national Center of Excellence for composite materials providing support to NASA engineers as well as first-tier Department of Defense suppliers in West Virginia.

Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer

Tennessee Tech University (TTU) announced today that it is launching TechBot, a mobile, multitasking 3D Printer designed, developed and fabricated by TTU faculty and students. TTU has applied for a provisional U.S. Patent on the 3D printer.

Although there are many 3D printers on the market today, the TechBot differs in its mobility. Most printers today demand a rigid frame structure. This new printer is not limited to a traditional work envelope as are other conventional 3D printers –  the user can define and set up their own work surface to print almost any type of material from the paste-based extruder.

TTU TechBot 3D Printer
TTU TechBot 3D Printer

This is another key difference with the TechBot – it does not use traditional 3D printer materials, such as, filament, powder, pellets, or resin that are commonly used in several other additive manufacturing processes. It has a paste-based method, using a syringe, to dispense any paste type material on any X and Y direction. It can do 200mm in height on the Z axis.

The team has found a number of uses and applications for this Mobile printer:

      • Using the TechBot mobile multitasking platform to develop a mobile tape applicator for multi-purpose gyms. This will result in a quick and precise method to convert a multi-purpose gym floor from a basketball court to a volleyball court.
      • The TechBot platform can also be used to incorporate a fast drying paint extruder to paint team logos onto arena floors. During Sports tournaments, the TechBot could paint both team logos onto an arena floor within minutes. This paint can be removed with the appropriate dissolver.
      • Another application for the TechBot platform is in the construction industry to extrude grout between tile gaps.

Other applications are being explored, across a wide range of areas, such as, 3D food printing (think cakes, pies, desserts) to circuit boards. The team has also looked into the printing of concrete structures with the TechBot. 

The TechBot is designed to incorporate 4 omnidirectional wheels at the corners which greatly improves the print accuracy. The extrusion head is incorporated within the frame of the TechBot, this makes it possible for one z-axis to be capable of printing multiple materials using different extrusion methods. The TechBot is also offered as a do-it-yourself (DIY) kit (assembly required).

TechBot is funded through NSF Award 1601587, Additive Manufacturing Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). Research Team Members are:

The TechBot team also received technical support from Ed Tackett (University of Louisville), Amy Elliott (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Tom Singer (Sinclair Community College), and Mel Cossette (Edmonds Community College).

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Technical specs of the TechBot

  • Size: X-37cm Y-37cm Z-66cm
    • Max printing area: X-unlimited Y-unlimited Z-200mm
  • OmniWheels: 60mm diameter
  • Syringe Extruder: Uses a 150mL syringe
  • Driven by a 40mm Nema 17 motor with a 27:1 gear ratio
    • Lead screw is used for the up and down motion
  • Syringe Extruder frame was designed in house
    • Utilizes a filament run out sensor
  • Board: MKS GEN L V1.0 Board
    • Runs on marlin code
  • Stepper Motors: 4x 48mm Nema 17 stepper motors
    • Using Nema 17 motor mounts
  • Frame: 2020 aluminum extrusion
    • Size: 32cm x 32cm x 40cm
  • Aluminum corner brackets and right angle plates for a perfectly square frame
    • Z Axis: 34mm  Nema 17 stepper motor turning a lead screw for z axis movement
    • Supported by 2 linear guide rails with linear bearings