Industry leaders are calling it a manufacturing renaissance, and they hope businesses get on board for the ride.
Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Composition, a center better known as CIMP-3D for advancing and deploying 3-D manufacturing, and America Makes, a manufacturing institute in Youngstown, Ohio, are hosting a forum on the technology, application and business of 3-D manufacturing for small- and medium-sized businesses.
About 300 companies from around the country Thursday attended the first day of the two-day forum at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Among the attendees, 95 hail from Pennsylvania.
“It’s wonderful, because we’re a leader in additive manufacturing, and you can tell that this is just going to take off in the world,” Penn State President Eric Barron said.
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The industry may already have taken off.
It produced the first 3-D-manufactured vertebra in August, which surgeons implanted into a 12-year-old cancer patient in China.
“The whole notion of having a printer that can create a part or build something to replace something is exciting,” Barron said. “We’re at the forefront of that. We also, however, want to be at the forefront of promoting economic development, and small businesses are going to be a critical element in that.”
Seven local businesses, including Actuated Medical, Nittany Laser Technologies, and Solid Dynamics, are attending the forum.
“This is fantastic for the locality, for the region and the commonwealth, because Penn State’s leadership in this field can be translated into economic development,” CBICC president Vern Squier said. “That means job creation, wealth creation and opportunities to better everyone.”
Squier will give a presentation Friday at the forum about 3D manufacturing companies’ roles in economic development.
“It will be about how companies can look at themselves and their role in economic development as well as their corporate development and how they play a role in their regions, how they can take advantage of the systems out there to support them and, in turn, how they can support those systems,” Squier said.
Company representatives said they attended the forum to learn about the future of 3-D printing.
“We want to learn the whole scope of how some processes work and what the industry is getting into right now, because there are a lot of avenues the industry is pursuing in general,” Marcus Machinery territory manager David Anglero said. “We want to find out what other people are focused on.”
A Penn State researcher said he came to see Barron speak, but that the forum is the place to be to learn about 3-D manufacturing’s impact on the world.
“I know a lot about additive manufacturing already, so I’m just here to see the president (Barron), because he’s doing a presentation,” Penn State research associate Abdalla Nassar said. “This type of forum provides a place where you can see the real world implications of additive manufacturing, and it’s difficult to find that.”