The University of Akron is among dozens of partners in a new White House initiative announced Thursday to boost manufacturing.
The pilot program will use $30 million in federal funds to develop a manufacturing hub in Youngstown to test and perfect an emerging field called additive manufacturing.
The program will include more than 50 academic, corporate and government partners from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“Frankly, we are thrilled,” said George Haritos, dean of the UA College of Engineering. “We felt good about our proposal going in, but when only one gets funded, you never know.”
Techbelt, a regional network of universities and companies including UA, developed the proposal for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, layer by layer, to lower costs and lessen waste for the defense, aerospace and automotive industries.
Techbelt partners will contribute money or in-kind assistance amounting to $40 million on top of the federal contribution. Haritos, the UA dean, said his campus would provide a little more than $1 million in in-kind assistance over the initial five years of the institute.
He said a skeleton crew of five to seven UA researchers are involved in the project. As the program develops, perhaps two dozen more in fields ranging from business to polymer science will be involved, he suggested.
“The strength of this is that it would cost one-tenth to make a part,” he said. “You design the component in the computer and the computer deposits materials at a specified rate and order.”
Other Ohio partners in the pilot program include Timken, Parker Hannifin and three other colleges and universities — Case Western Reserve, Youngstown State and Lorain County Community College.
The new institute is the first to be announced since the Obama administration launched the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation in March. The network eventually could include up to 15 institutes nationwide.
The pilot program will be managed by the U.S. Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and others.
The announcement introducing the pilot program was made at M-7 Technologies, an advanced manufacturing facility, in Youngstown. The program’s main hub in Youngstown is scheduled to launch by September.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3729. The Associated Press contributed to this report.