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ITAMCO Receives R&D Funding Award for Additive Manufacturing Project
Company is part of a team aiming to codify design rules for support structures used in Direct Metal Laser Sintering
PLYMOUTH, Ind.—A team consisting of Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO), Johnson & Johnson, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Pittsburgh has been awarded R&D funding by America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The team is one of nine groups to receive funding through the Institute’s third project call. America Makes will provide up to $8 million in funding toward these projects, with $11 million in matching cost shared by the awarded project teams, for total funding worth $19 million. The goal of America Works is to help the participants commercialize the results of their work.
The ITAMCO group’s project is titled “Parametric Design of Functional Support Structures for Metal Alloy Feedstocks.” The team’s mission is to codify the design rules for support structures used in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and to inform, and then automatically recommend, the optimal part orientation and designs for optimized supports.
Currently, during part builds, support structures are not only essential to laying part foundations and providing structural support, but also are critical to eliminating part warp during powder recoating and improving heat extraction. However, few rules exist for designing support structures. Moreover, although additive manufacturing (AM) machine tool software packages have the ability to add support structures, these existing capabilities are fairly primitive and do not take into consideration part orientation, distortion, or heat extraction uniformity.
This diverse group—ITAMCO, Johnson & Johnson, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Pittsburgh—was formed when employees from each organization starting talking at meetings and events and found a common goal: the advancement of additive manufacturing. The members of the group developed the award proposal together, and will divide the work in such a way that the University of Notre Dame will provide the algorithms for modeling; Johnson & Johnson will provide medical implant models for optimization; the University of Pittsburgh will provide testing on its DMLS equipment; and ITAMCO will write the plug-in application for AutoDesk.
ITAMCO (www.itamco.com), a manufacturer of precision-machined components, is an accomplished user of AutoDesk and was named 2014 AutoDesk Inventor of the Year. The ITAMCO staff has used AutoDesk products to produce gears for demanding customers, such as NASA and the Department of Defense.
Even before receiving the America Works funding award, ITAMCO was pursuing the development of additive manufacturing through its “Strategic Technology Initiative for Additive Manufacturing.” A video of the company’s 3D metal printer can be viewed here:
“The R&D award and subsequent results will go a long way to bringing additive manufacturing into our offerings,” said Joel Neidig, an engineer at ITAMCO and its lead IT developer, in a release from the company. “As a gear manufacturer, we will always do subtractive manufacturing, but we recognize that additive manufacturing is the future of our business.”
The proposed completion date for the project is January 2017. At that time, ITAMCO will begin working with AutoDesk to bring the application to market.
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