New economic development funding to power industrial innovation at UNI

UNI NEWS SERVICES – Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law last Friday a bill that will provide $400,000 in economic development funding to the University of Northern Iowa, increasing the college’s capacity to work with manufacturing technologies that will both benefit crucial industries in the state and provide additional training and opportunity for students to become employees in high-demand fields.

Additive Manufacturing Center
UNI's Additive Manufacturing Center is the best equipped applied research center of its kind, with equipment like the ExOne S-Max Sand Printer (image), with a national reputation as the go-to place for additive manufacturing assistance throughout Iowa and the U.S.

Specifically, the funds will be used to bolster equipment, space and staffing at the Additive Manufacturing Center, a core component of UNI’s Metal Casting Center and the hub of the university’s work with the emerging technology of additive manufacturing for investment castings.

The center plans to hire three to four new staff members and bring on 20 additional student employees, who will receive valuable hands-on experience in an emerging technology.

“The students’ training in technology at the Additive Manufacturing Center vastly exceeds and complements the instruction they receive in the traditional classroom environment,” said Randy Pilkington, director of Business and Community Services at UNI. “This is demonstrated by the number of students who receive multiple job offers and very competitive salaries after graduation.”  

Additive manufacturing for investment castings is changing the way parts are manufactured. Using additive manufacturing to create patterns for investment casting with integrated automation has the potential to further advance the castings industry dramatically in the next five years.  

Investment casting technology is poised to benefit high-technology companies such as Deere, Collins Aviation and Emerson Process Management by improving their supply chain. Some key industry sectors benefiting from 3D investment casting technologies include aerospace, defense, agricultural manufacturing and medical technologies, such as joint replacement technologies in collaboration with the University of Iowa.

The center is planning for the funds to be an ongoing revenue stream from the state, which will help the Additive Manufacturing Center stay on the leading edge of innovation.

“A stable funding stream will allow the AMC to concentrate on activities that benefit Iowa companies to the fullest,” Pilkington said. “The funds will support new employee salaries to engage in higher levels of technology training and allow current staff members to concentrate more time on applied research and industry adoption.” 


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