Looking out from the entrance area of NAMII in Youngstown, Ohio.

The entrance area of NAMII in Youngstown, Ohio.

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When President Barack Obama took a moment in his State of the Union address earlier this year to mention the converted warehouse in Youngstown, Ohio, that is home to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, he made Kevin Collier’s life a little more hectic.

But Collier, factory manager of NAMII, doesn’t seem to mind. During a special tour for the Laser Institute of America that lasted more than an hour on Aug. 23, he proudly displayed the broad range of machines and materials he and his interns employ to push the boundaries of laser-based AM.

Youngstown is one key stop along the “tech belt” of Route 80 that Dr. Richard Martukanitz discussed at the fifth-annual Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop in Houston on Feb. 13, the day after the president’s nod to NAMII. Martukanitz, co-director of CIMP-3D at Penn State, and his fellow researchers have also felt the influx of curious visitors at the one-year-old facility. (NAMII also just celebrated its first anniversary.) He and Drs. Kenneth Meinert Jr. and Tim Simpson also spent more than an hour with me during a tour of their growing facility Aug 26.

CIMP-3D — the Center for Innovative Metal Processing Through Direct Digital Deposition — and NAMII are busy incubators for the AM processing, products and technology that LIA stresses at its industry-leading conferences like LAM and the upcoming Lasers for Manufacturing Event on Sept. 11-12 in Schaumburg, Ill.

Both facilities just completed training for their latest round of interns. About a three-hour drive apart, both facilities are also well worth exploring.

NAMII is housed in a 100-year-old renovated furniture warehouse that retains its vintage wooden elevator and a ramp over a back alley that was used to roll completed furniture to the storeroom. Now, the building at 236 W. Boardman St. is home to everything from several desktop 3D printers to medium- and large-scale FDM (fused deposition modeling), SLS (selective laser sintering) and SLM (selective laser melting) equipment. Due to increased interest, Collier said, NAMII has limited tours to Tuesdays through Thursdays, with special accommodations on request for Monday and Friday visits.

CIMP-3D, at Innovation Park in State College, Pa., is right across from the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and is a purpose-built lab with a special powder storage area that includes anti-static measures. The laboratory is expanding to house three new machines.

I undertook this tour as part of a new periodic feature for the Continuous Wave blog that focuses on key players and places in the laser industry. Stay tuned for more details from our visits to NAMII and CIMP-3D, and be sure to let me know what’s new at your company or lab. Reach me at geoffgio@verizon.net.

 

Kevin Collier demonstrates the vintage elevator at America Makes (NAMII), which leads to some of facility's most advanced equipment.

Kevin Collier demonstrates the vintage elevator at America Makes (NAMII), which leads to some of facility’s most advanced equipment.

The entrance to NAMII.

The entrance to NAMII.