Ariel Dowski ’14 (CLAS)/UConn Photo, via ucomm.edu/blog
Pratt & Whitney COO Paul AdamsPratt & Whitney COO Paul Adams speaking at the University of Connecticut.
Pratt & Whitney and the University of Connecticut have celebrated the opening of a new Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at the higher education institution.
The east Hartford jet engine builder is providing funding worth $8 million (£5.2 million, €6.1 million) for the advanced additive manufacturing laboratory at the university's Depot Campus in Storrs.
The Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center will be used to further additive manufacturing research and development and is the first of its kind in the northeast US to work with metals rather than plastics.
Moreover, the centre will be used to educate a new generation of engineers and designers in the latest advancements in manufacturing technology - which is continuing to adopt 3D printing as a major technique throughout the sector.
The facility features the latest in 3D manufacturing equipment and rapid prototyping technologies. It is home to two Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) A2X model machines for the manufacturing of large, complex metal parts at high temperatures.
The A2X models are the first to be introduced to the North American marketplace and the two EBM machines are believed to be the only ones in the northeast US. Industry engineers and academic personnel alike will be able to be trained on-site in how to use EBM, while it will also play host to training sessions for students and engineers. Furthermore, Connecticut manufacturers will be invited to explore the technology for their own developments.
Pratt & Whitney engineers and the university faculty and students will use the facility's resources to develop advanced fabrication techniques for complex production parts that are in high demand in aerospace, biomedical sciences and other industries.
Chief operating officer at the company Paul Adams commented: "Additive manufacturing is complementary to traditional methods by enabling new innovation in design, speed and affordability, and is necessary to build the next generation of jet engines. We are currently using additive manufacturing to build complex components with extreme precision for the flight-proven PurePower commercial jet engine."
Pratt & Whitney invested more than $4.5 million in the centre and over the coming five years, it will invest a further $3.5 million.
This development also supports Barack Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership scheme, which has encouraged innovative collaborations between industry, universities and the government in order to increase the US's competitiveness since 2011. The initiative aims to do this by improving existing manufacturing capabilities through the development of advanced materials, components and technologies.
Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, stated: "The Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center is the latest example of the structural and strategic changes we're making.
"These important investments in our state's future are reigniting and reinvigorating Connecticut's economy."
In the future, it is hoped the Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at the University of Connecticut will elevate the state's industries' production capabilities, reduce manufacturing times, eliminate material waste and enable the creation of a new generation of intricate, light-weight and durable custom products.