Met-L-Flo Adds Value To Technician Education In AM

With its heritage as the second largest manufacturing city in the U.S., for much of the 20th century, Chicago was well known for metal fabrication. Although large manufacturing plants with booming smokestacks are a stereotypical image for the industry, much of America’s manufacturing output came from small and midsize family-owned businesses. Their impact was far from small: From electrical machinery to iron and steel products, machine tools to fabricated metals, Chicago sold manufactured goods all over the world.

UPDATE 15APR: At AMUG this year, Met-L-Flo tied for First Place with its entry of the “Master Chief” print. Congratulations to Bill Braune and the team.

Met-L-Flo ties for First Place Award at AMUG 2019 with "Master Chief"
Met-L-Flo ties for First Place Award at AMUG 2019 with “Master Chief”

As manufacturing shifts to more advanced methods, it is not surprising to find that only an hour straight west of Chicago sits a well-known voice in the world of additive manufacturing (AM). Met-L-Flo is a 3D printing and rapid prototyping service bureau headed by Carl Dekker, President of the company, and active advocate in two of the most prominent AM organizations: the ASTM F42 Committee and the Additive Manufacturing Users Group known as AMUG.

AMUG Board 2018 2019
Newly elected AMUG Board. Front row (L to R): Mark Barfoot, Leslie Frost, Carl Dekker and Tom Sorovetz. Back row (L to R): Vince Anewenter, Jamie Cone, Paul Bates, Todd Grimm and Gary Rabinovitzrof
   Note: You can read the full news post on the AMUG Board here.

Met-L-Flo Engineering was founded in 1969 as a consulting firm for the metal forging industry. Carl Dekker, current president of the company, introduced Additive Manufacturing in 1991 and Met-L-Flo, the service bureau, was born. The service company offers a wide range of rapid prototyping methods; rotational molding/casting, fiber-reinforced plastics, composites, and vacuum/thermoforming. Their services also include most of the leading additive technologies (3D Printing) in SLA, SLS, FDM, Direct Metal and Polyjet.

Carl served as the Chairman and Past Chairman (current) on the ASTM Committee F42. He is now serving as a vice president for AMUG.  With a background in additive manufacturing and his work on international standards, it makes a lot of sense that Carl would join the TEAMM Coordination Network.

With the Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials (TEAMM) project working to address critical gaps in technician education involving additive and materials science, having someone deeply familiar with the ASTM skills standards is essential to helping support the TEAMM Network. We are happy to have Carl and Met-L-Flo involved and sharing the value of higher skills for technicians.

TEAMM Network Member Dr. Ismail Fidan Profiled In News

At TEAMM and AM News, we like to celebrate when our members receive recognition for their accomplishments. Recently, Dr. Ismail Fidan from Tennessee Tech University (TTU) was profiled in the regional newspaper, the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, for being a researcher focused on how additive manufacturing is making an impact on everyday life.

Dr. Ismail Fidan profiled in Cookeville Herald-Citizen

The article highlighted that, “Fidan Is working towards securing his 10th grant funded by the National Science Foundation, which would bring the amount of grants funded for his research to more than $4.6 million during his time at TTU, all related to additive manufacturing. He has been working in the field for nearly 15 years.”

The profile also mentions how he has worked “with other institutions to establish an additive manufacturing laboratory framework, including a smartphone app that helps institutions work together, collaborate and share resources for 3D printing projects.” This includes the AM lab at Edmonds Community College.

AM News, of course, has written about the importance of Dr. Fidan’s Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series (SEE NOTE for last two events for Spring 2019 below), a web-based presentation series given by national and international experts in additive manufacturing. So far, the series has trained more than 500 people in the diverse applications of additive manufactur­ing. In addition to these web-based lectures, Fidan organizes an annual workshop on additive manufacturing to address gaps in the current knowledge base of technicians through the development of curriculum and educational materials and sup­port to more than 30 community college and high school instructors per year.

There is still time to join in on the final two lectures (click that above link for more info OR you can click this Zoom link in any web browser at 11am U.S. Central Standard Time):

      • Thursday, March 28: Preparing Your Model for 3D Printing with Adam Wills, Master II Instructor, Computer Aided Design Technology, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Nashville
      • Thursday, April 18: Project iGen: Using Additive Manufacturing for Service Learning with Amy Fricks, Math Teacher, DeKalb County High School, Tennessee.

You can also peruse the entire 2016 through 2018 Additively Innovative Lecture Series archive here.

Hats off to Dr. Fidan for the recent media mention as well as his commitment to the combination of additive manufacturing and technician education.

Tennessee Tech University Announces Spring Lecture Series for Additive Manufacturing

For the last several years, the Engineering Department at Tennessee Tech University (TTU) has created and hosted the Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series. Dr. Ismail Fidan finds timely topics and the experts who can share about them for the virtual seminars.

Additively Innovative Lecture Series Spring 2019 TTU

The Spring 2019 series begins in early February and here are the details. Students, teachers, and interested participants are welcome to join in from 11 to 11:30 a.m. CST. With a web browser, you can join from anywhere via this Zoom (web conferencing) link.

Here are the upcoming spring lectures:

  • Thursday, Feb. 7: The Phantom Hole Technique, Improving Structural Performance in FFF/FDM 3D Printed Products with Eric N. Wooldridge, Professor of Additive Manufacturing at Somerset Community College, Kentucky.
  • Thursday, Feb. 21: Understanding Powder Bed Additive Manufacturing with Josh Dennis, Area Representative – South Central Region, Texas, EOS North America.
  • Thursday, March 28: Preparing Your Model for 3D Printing with Adam Wills, Master II Instructor, Computer Aided Design Technology, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Nashville
  • Thursday, April 18: Project iGen: Using Additive Manufacturing for Service Learning with Amy Fricks, Math Teacher, DeKalb County High School, Tennessee.

We have written about the other Golden Eagle series events and you can learn more about them or watch/listen to previous talks by visiting the post: Additively Innovative Lecture Series At TTU – FALL 2018 where there are links to the past presentations (over two dozen presentations are archived).

Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Virtual Lecture Series is partially funded by the NSF Award 1601587, “AM-WATCH: Additive Manufacturing-Workforce Advancement Training Coalition and Hub”.

Materials Scientists Working On Dental Enamel That Could Regenerate

You never know where an opportunity will present itself for a materials science technician. Your local dentist or dental lab may need help in the near future if this research from Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom develops.

Earlier this month, researchers announced they were working on a new way to grow “mineralized” materials that mimic hard tissues – dental enamel or bone.

The study, originally published in Nature Communications, show how new materials can be recreated to look and work like natural dental enamel. The researchers believe that it could help prevent tooth decay and sensitivity and also provide a way to treat those conditions.

According to the paper:

“Enamel, located on the outer part of our teeth, is the hardest tissue in the body and enables our teeth to function for a large part of our lifetime despite biting forces, exposure to acidic foods and drinks and extreme temperatures. This remarkable performance results from its highly organised structure.”

The paper cites “lead author Professor Alvaro Mata, also from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, who said: ‘A major goal in materials science is to learn from nature to develop useful materials based on the precise control of molecular building-blocks. The key discovery has been the possibility to exploit disordered proteins to control and guide the process of mineralisation at multiple scales. Through this, we have developed a technique to easily grow synthetic materials that emulate such hierarchically organised architecture over large areas and with the capacity to tune their properties.'”

Mimic other hard tissues

As the researchers understand and control how the process of mineralization works, they believe they will be able to mimic other hard tissues. That potential makes it interesting and valuable to other specialties within the medical and dental communities, particularly in regenerative medicine.

An understanding of how materials work is going to be increasingly valuable in our materials research-based world. Whether it is dental enamel, human bones, or carbon fiber, materials science technicians have a bright future.

More resources and information:

The full research paper was published at Nature Communications: ‘Protein disorder-order interplay to guide 1 the growth of hierarchical mineralized structures’. Sherif Elsharkawy, Maisoon Al-Jawad, Maria F. Pantano, Esther Tejeda-Montes, Khushbu Mehta, Hasan Jamal, Shweta Agarwal, Kseniya Shuturminska, Alistair Rice, Nadezda V. Tarakina, Rory M. Wilson, Andy J. Bushby, Matilde Alonso, Jose C. Rodriguez-Cabello, Ettore Barbieri, Armando del Rio Hernández, Molly M. Stevens, Nicola M. Pugno, Paul Anderson, Alvaro Mata.

Details from Queen Mary University of London news post: Scientists develop material that could regenerate dental enamel. The research was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant (STROFUNSCAFF) and the Marie Curie Integration Grant (BIOMORPH).

An early release of the research was featured in Labiotech.eu and it has a good breakdown of what it looks like and what it means for dentistry and for us as patients: Dental Enamel Biopolymers.

Photo used with permission from Queen Mary University of London. Credit: Alvaro Mata.

If you are interested in other materials science advancements for technician education (and future employment opportunity ideas), check out this post on TEAMM AM News: Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint.

Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint

SME Has Three Questions They Want To Help You Answer About Additive Manufacturing

SME believes that additive manufacturing (3D printing) faces barriers to more widespread adoption and use. There is a gap between existing knowledge and the technology’s capabilities and potential. At the heart of their new initiative are three questions to help bridge that gap:

  • Can I print it?
  • Should I print it?
  • What’s the best machine, material and process for a particular part?

The initiative is called the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM). The consortium is comprised of manufacturing companies, additive manufacturing equipment and material producers, industry organizations, academic institutions, service bureaus, CAD, CAE, and other software solutions providers. Here is an ITEAM overview video on YouTube.

The purpose of ITEAM is to advance additive manufacturing by providing a trusted information platform as a resource for manufacturers using this technology. Users need a better way to evaluate the feasibility of producing additively manufactured parts amidst the constantly changing field of machines, materials and processes. SME and their partners through ITEAM are building a new prototype AM Rapid Virtual Evaluation Platform.

This platform is being developed and tested by the ITEAM consortium in collaboration with Dr. Michael Grieves, renowned expert at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), along with GM and other major industry users in automotive and aerospace. The open platform will provide a virtual repository of AM machine/material capabilities with evaluation tools to enable users to determine their parts’ suitability to be manufactured additively.

Check out the Michael Grieves Interview from RAPID+TCT 2018.

According to the SME news release, “The ITEAM tool compares and calculates the best machine, material and process for a particular application. Utilizing SAM-CT (size, accuracy and materials + economic evaluation of cost and throughput) methodology, companies can upload their part file to the secure platform and evaluate whether something “can” and “should” be produced by additive manufacturing. This helps manufacturers reduce risking valuable time and resources on trial and error in the manufacturing process.”

Dr. Grieves explained the SAM-CT model in a recent post at 3DPrint.com entitled, How Do We Make Better Decisions in 3D Technologies? ITEAM has the Answer. In it, he shares this visual that explains how the process works. In short, “SAM is the technical evaluation of the ‘Can I make it,’” Grieves said. The SAM-CT model and Dr. Grieves’ work certainly answers the three questions SME wants to help you with, plus quite a bit more.