UNI’s Additive Manufacturing Center to become one-of-a-kind facility

UNI’s Additive Manufacturing Center to become one-of-a-kind facility

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Landon Hinchman, right, cleans excess material from a 3D wax printer mold as Jiayi Wang cleans another type of 3D printed mold at the UNI Additive Manufacturing Center in Waterloo on Feb. 4.

CEDAR FALLS – The University of Northern Iowa Additive Manufacturing Center received the first of three automated robotic machining cells last month.

It will make the center the only university-based automated investment casting facility in the world, officials said.

The expansion brings together additive manufacturing technology with automated computer-controlled processing that will enable faster casting production. The cells will create a fully automated investment casting molding line integrated with the existing pattern printing technologies.

“The automation applications into the metal casting industry will help elevate the skill sets of the workforce while removing workers from environmentally and physically challenging or dangerous applications,” said Travis Frush, operations manager at the AMC. “Operators will use robots to support the menial and basic material handling requirements of the casting process.”

Installation is still in the planning phases. The AMC is set to receive the final two automated robotic machining cells later this spring.

The AMC is a 3D printing and high-tech casting center employing UNI students to help keep Iowa’s industry supply chain at the cutting edge.

Fueled by demand from Iowa’s small businesses, the AMC has seen explosive growth since it was launched, doubling in size three times as it helps keep the state’s manufacturers competitive, officials said.

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