Richard Shelby secures Auburn University $3M for 3-D printing research

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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $3,087,090 to Auburn University for research and the development of techniques to improve the additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, industry.

“Auburn University has become a national leader in the field of additive manufacturing,” said Senator Richard Shelby, who announced the grant on Wednesday. “This NIST grant will provide Auburn the unique opportunity to innovate and empower engineering industries, boosting efforts to promote the continued economic growth of our manufacturing sector.  The research, training, and development that will take place as a result of this funding will allow the university to advance additive manufacturing and continue competing on a national stage.”   

Unlike traditional manufacturing processes that require machining to create components, additive manufacturing allows manufacturers to fabricate parts layer-by-layer from metals, plastics or other materials using a 3-D computer-aided design model. Because parts are made by building upon each layer, additive technology reduces waste in the manufacturing process, allows for the creation of highly complex shapes and can create parts that are both lighter and more durable than those made using traditional manufacturing methods. The technology is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry, giving engineers new methods to create custom parts for manufacturers in the aerospace, biomedical and automobile industries as well as in other areas.

“Additive manufacturing is revolutionizing industries ranging from aviation to medical instruments to automotive,” added Auburn University President Steven Leath. “Thanks to Senator Shelby, the State of Alabama is providing national leadership in developing and refining these technologies that foster economic opportunity, improve quality of life and strengthen our country’s infrastructure.”

With the help of this NIST award, Auburn University will work to address various issues challenging the additive manufacturing industry. Specifically, the initiative will:

  • Conduct cutting-edge research
  • Train and educate graduate and undergraduate students
  • Develop and promote technological innovations that advance the pace of the additive manufacturing industry.

This new funding from NIST will allow Auburn’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) — founded through a collaboration between Auburn University and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) — to expand its programs to include new research on metrology, which is the measurement and characterization of 3-D printed parts, and advanced process models that will allow engineers to predict the properties and performance of these 3-D printed parts. The research resulting from this grant will have a strong technical and economic impact on various industries in the United States.  

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