Alfred University News

Alfred University, ICI collaborate on project to study additive manufacturing in casting processes

Alfred University is partnering with the Investment Casting Institute (ICI) on a federally-funded project researching ways to utilize 3-D printing in the casting and forging manufacturing processes.

The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) and American Makes, the nation’s leading public-private partnership for additive manufacturing technology and education, recently announced the grant recipients from an $11.7 million funding pool through the Improvements in Manufacturing Productivity via Additive Capabilities and Techno-Economic Analysis (IMPACT) program.

IMPACT, which is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Research and Engineering Manufacturing Technology Office, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, aims to demonstrate productivity and yield benefits for casting and forging processes using additive manufacturing (3-D printing) technologies. ICI, a New Jersey-based trade association with a mission of promoting investment casting — a manufacturing process in which a wax pattern is used to shape a disposable ceramic mold — was awarded $3 million in funding.

John Simmins ’84, PhD ’90, executive director of Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT), said the University will serve as a subcontractor for the Investment Casting Institute. Simmins will serve as the University’s principal researcher on the project, leading a team testing the strength and durability of ceramic materials used in the 3-D printing of molds used in casting and forging applications.

Alfred University will receive an initial $275,000 in funding to conduct its research for the two-year IMPACT project, with additional funding pending. The University requested total funding in the amount of $412,000.

Researchers from Alfred University’s Inamori School of Engineering working in project include Simmins; James Thibault, surface analysis, microscopy, and mechanical testing technician; Lee Hyojin, senior research associate; and Jared Kantak, a senior ceramic engineering major for whom Simmins is advising on his senior thesis. Simmins said researchers will utilize computerized tomography (CT) scanning and scanning electron microscopy to test 3-D printed ceramic materials.

“Alfred University is proud of this effort to secure supply chains for the Department of Defense using our expertise in ceramic additive manufacturing and materials characterization,” Simmins commented. “Alfred’s unique ability to test materials at elevated temperatures and controlled atmospheres provides critical feedback to the additive manufacturing process.”

The project will benefit a number of business and manufacturing entities from New York State served by the ICI, including makers of 3-D printing equipment, casting manufacturers, and producers of materials used in the 3-D printing process.

“This project is an example of the CACT’s engagement with industrial institutions to expand the impact of Alfred’s research and support the economy of New York State,” said David Gottfried, CACT deputy director.