UNT’s 3D printing initiatives get $10 million in funding from Texas Legislature

UNT’s 3D printing initiatives get $10 million in funding from Texas Legislature

UNT’s 3D printing initiatives get $10 million in funding from Texas Legislature
June 17
17:48 2019

The Texas Legislature awarded the University of North Texas’s 3D printing and manufacturing center with an additional $10 million, according to a press release on Monday.

Known as the Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing (CAAAM), the center aims to create 3D objects more efficiently and research how materials are affected using 3D printing technology as opposed to more traditional manufacturing methods.

The additional funding is critical, said UNT president Neal Smatresk in the press release. 

“We are grateful to the legislature for funding our new center and especially appreciative of the unwavering support we received from Texas Senator Pat Fallon and Representative Lynn Stucky,” he said in the press release.

Sales for 3D printing products by large companies are estimated to surpass 2.7 billion in 2019 and top out at 3 billion in 2020, according to Deloitte Insights, a global business analysis research firm.

The potential for 3D printing to create new materials, and build current materials faster within the manufacturing process has been referred to by some experts as a fundamental shift.

“They print objects faster than they used to, and they can print larger objects (build volume),” said Deloitte research director Duncan Stewart in a 2018 yearly analysis. “A steady stream of new entrants is expanding the market. 3D printing is considered ‘an essential ingredient’ in Industry 4.0, the marriage of advanced production and operations techniques with smart digital technologies that is being heralded as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Valerie Bell, a UNT computational social scientist, said she remembered seeing one of North America’s first 3D printers at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the mid-1990s where paper-like material was molded into solid matter during a demonstration.

“It was paper, but it sounded like it was iron,” she said. “It was the most amazing thing.”

Advances in manufacturing technology have the ability to change how consumers interact with products, Bell said.

“In the next 10-15 years you’re going to order something off of Amazon, it’s not going to be like the postal service that takes it to your house on a Sunday or a drone drops it on your front porch, you’re going to order something, you’re going to press a button and it’s going to materialize right there in your house,” she said.

Public and private universities across the U.S., including Harvard and Cornell, have also created initiatives and symposiums dedicated to 3D printing processes ranging from the creation of human tissue and medical implants to constructing houses.

More funding for a center dedicated to such research will advance UNT’s role as a research university, Smatresk said in the press release.

“Through CAAAM, UNT will advance its research and expand its role as a leader in this exciting new technology,” he said.

Featured Image: File. 

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Jelani Gibson

Jelani Gibson

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