Carnegie Mellon University
April 01, 2013

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Receives First Round of Funding To Improve Tools for Additive Manufacturing

Contacts: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /
Ken Walters / 412-268-2900 /

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University and Case Western Reserve University are leading a team of five universities, five companies and two national laboratories that has won funding for two projects to better control and understand three-dimensional printing technologies for fabricating metal components.

The projects are part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). Located in Youngstown, Ohio, the institute is being used to help develop additive manufacturing technology, better known as 3-D printing. The technology speeds up production time while decreasing the cost of products, including jet engine parts and medical implants.

“We are working to control and understand material microstructure and mechanical properties of parts made with two kinds of additive manufacturing processes to ensure the quality of parts to be used by the aerospace and medical industry sectors,” said Jack Beuth, a CMU mechanical engineering professor leading one of the projects.

Beuth said the EOS Laser Sintering process and the Arcam Electron Beam Melting process will be investigated. Both are powder bed additive manufacturing processes that directly build metal components from metal powders.

A second project led by Penn State will use thermal imaging for process monitoring to help determine how heat impacts two other direct metal additive manufacturing processes. Process mapping technologies developed at CMU will allow material microstructure to be controlled based on thermal images of the melt pool taken during part fabrication.

The Obama administration proposed building a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) in March 2012 with plans to create as many as 15 advanced manufacturing institutes across the country. The NNMI is an offshoot of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, which President Obama announced at Carnegie Mellon in 2011.

The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) was selected to provide the leadership necessary to sustain and grow the NAMII to become a national center of technical and commercialization excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to support new additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies and products. CMU was part of the NCDMM proposal team along with several universities, private industries and economic development organizations to win a $30 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and several other federal agencies for the NAMII, the pilot institute of the NNMI.

The partnership includes more than 100 companies, universities, colleges and workforce development organizations. Initial support for the new initiative came from a cache of Pennsylvania Congressional leaders, including Senator Bob Casey and Western Pennsylvania area congressmen Jason Altmire, Mark Critz, Mike Doyle and Tim Murphy. The Commonwealth is also contributing matching funds to the effort.

“This first round of funding will help shorten the runway between research breakthroughs and shop floor development,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon. “We look forward to working with our partners in industry, academia and government on this exciting opportunity.”

Moving innovations to commercialization has been a strength at CMU for many years. The university’s Greenlighting Startups Initiative, which helps speed university research to the marketplace, has helped to launch more than 300 companies and create more than 9,000 jobs in the past 15 years.

“We look forward to continuing our work with all our partners to help rejuvenate U.S. manufacturing,” said Gary Fedder, a CMU professor of electrical and computer engineering who leads CMU’s efforts with the new institute. “Carnegie Mellon’s strengths in manufacturing innovation strategies and our leadership in engineering, robotics and nanotechnology is a wonderful ingredient for success.”