Ask an Additive Expert: Dana Levy

1) Why is Additive Manufacturing of interest to NYSERDA?

NYSERDA helps New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We do this by advancing energy solutions that will reduce our carbon footprint. Additive manufacturing supports these goals. For example, in some instances, factories can switch to additive manufacturing to become more-efficient and reduce their energy consumption while making their standard product. They can use additive manufacturing to fabricate electrical circuit board components without the use of solvents and thereby avoiding the need for energy-intensive ventilation. In other instances, lighter-weight products can be made to improve fuel economy of planes, trains and automobiles, by switching from traditional metal casting-produced solid parts to using additive manufacturing to fabricate those same parts with internal honeycomb structures.

2) NYSERDA recently collaborated with FuzeHub and Empire State Development to issue a report entitled “Status of and Vision for the Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem in New York State.” Can you tell us the goal of the report?

The goal was to provide a status of the additive manufacturing sector in New York State and explore ways to grow good, clean energy jobs in the industry, a vital component of Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading energy goals. The report is available here.

3) What where some key findings?

First and foremost, the report found that additive manufacturing presents substantial opportunities for manufacturing innovation and economic growth in New York State. A concerted effort to boost the additive manufacturing sector will result in the following positive economic impacts for New York State:

  • Help the state’s manufacturing sector to modernize and compete using current additive manufacturing technology where it is immediately applicable.
  • Support the development of the next generation of manufacturing technologies.
  • Encourage the development of superior products that would otherwise be impossible/impractical to manufacture, including the creation and incubation of new applications for additive manufacturing and attendant first-to-market advantages.
  • Foster new talent and/or retraining the existing workforce for employment in additive manufacturing and related industries.

In addition, while the marketplace, including New York State-based innovators, will continue to push the boundaries where additive manufacturing can excel, including development of new raw materials, new machines, new design software, and new business models (such as offering print-on-demand services), it is clear there is an immediate opportunity for existing manufacturers to adopt additive manufacturing as a new tool. For example, adoption could include, light-weighting of products, creating specialty tooling and fixturing, making small-quantity production runs, mass customization, production-on-demand in lieu of widely varying inventory of parts, consolidating multiple parts into an integrated structure, and rapid prototyping.

The report also found that workforce development and training can create a talent pool that will help our industrial community distinguish where and when additive manufacturing delivers competitive advantages that outperform traditional manufacturing techniques, and this savvy workforce will be instrumental for implementing and operating newly-adopted additive manufacturing production lines.

4) How does NYS compare in terms or additive manufacturing assets? Can you list some key resources?

New York is moving in a positive direction toward adopting additive manufacturing and supporting the sector. A strong constellation is clustered around Rochester, including the NYSTAR-funded AM-Print Center for Advanced Technology at RIT, Xerox and Kodak, and many others. Other resources include Buffalo Manufacturing Works operated by EWI, GE Global Research Center, the 3D Printing Initiative of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, and Long Island Forum for Technology’s Composite Prototyping Center.

In addition, the report includes an initial listing of additive manufacturing resources in New York State, including industrial, academic, and governmental entities to support the industry.

5) What can NYS and its stakeholders do to be ensure this technology is at the forefront for innovation investments? Why should manufacturers care?

New York State’s economy will benefit by growing a vibrant additive manufacturing ecosystem which aligns the supply chain and thereby accelerates the uptake of additive manufacturing.
New York and its stakeholders will continue to do outreach to educate manufacturers about the benefits and values of additive manufacturing. We need to help potential users evaluate which of their products might benefit from additive manufacturing, and then refer them to shared infrastructure facilities where they can experiment with production-grade systems.

In addition, NYSERDA provides several funding opportunities:

  • Industrial and Process Efficiency Program (PON 2456) is available to help factories reduce their energy intensity, and in some cases, this can be achieved by adopting Additive Manufacturing.
  • Advanced Clean Energy Exploratory Research Funding Program (PON 3249) is available to help innovators undertake proof-of-concept experiments with clean energy technologies, and in some cases, Additive Manufacturing can be used to develop new and improved clean energy products.

For more information on these and other funding opportunities, visit NYSERDA’s website.

Manufacturers should care about this because the industry is growing. According to industry expert Wohlers Associates “The compounded annual growth rate of worldwide revenues produced by all additive manufacturing products and services in 2013 was 34.9% and exceeded $3 billion for that year, and is forecasted to exceed $21 billion by the year 2020.” Additive manufacturing provides a nimbleness that can be a distinguishing feature as companies compete to manufacture products for their customers.”

6) What’s the coolest product you have seen created using additive?

There are some cool wind turbine blades being built directly via additive manufacturing, as well as using additive manufacturing to fabricate the molds that are then used to make carbon fiber composite wind turbine blades. And GE has achieved an amazing breakthrough with the fuel igniter for its revolutionary aircraft LEAP engine. But my favorite (so far) is the Shelby Cobra sportscar built by Oak Ridge National Labs using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine.

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