Kent Rockwell, chairman and CEO of ExOne, right, shows Gov. Tom Corbett parts manufactured by ExOne in North Huntingdon during a visit to Acutronic.
By Len Boselovic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday doled out a portion of Pennsylvania's $5 million contribution to a $70 million public-private partnership that government and industry officials hope will spark a manufacturing renaissance in the state.
Mr. Corbett said two Pittsburgh companies and one in Bucks County will get state funds to hire graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University and Lehigh University who will help the companies with projects involving additive manufacturing, a technology that is expected to revolutionize manufacturing.
He made the announcement at Acutronic, a Washington's Landing aerospace industry supplier that was one of the grant winners. The other two companies are ExOne of Irwin and Paramount Industries of Langhorne.
The value of the grants was not disclosed. CMU mechanical engineering professor O. Burak Ozdoganlar said each dollar from the state will be matched with $1.50 from the three companies and will fund a graduate student's work for one year. The company contributions could come in the form of providing employees to work on the projects, he said.
Each of the projects involves additive manufacturing. Also known as 3-D printing, the technology has been hailed as the harbinger of the next industrial revolution and the next trillion-dollar industry.
Additive manufacturing enables companies to make finished complex products without bending, molding, welding, grinding and assembling various components. A digital image of the product is sliced into hundreds or thousands of layers the width of a human hair.
A 3-D printer similar to a laser-jet printer sprays layers of powdered metals or other materials and sand into a box, binding them together with a proprietary liquid. Once each layer is printed, the sand is vacuumed away and the finished part is hardened in a furnace.
The state's commitment of $5 million in $1 million installments helped a consortium of businesses and universities in Pennsylvania, northeast Ohio and West Virginia win $30 million in federal funding to start the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Companies, universities and governments will provide the other $40 million.
Mr. Ozdoganlar estimated that $1 million in state funds could support 12 to 15 internships at CMU and Lehigh, the schools Mr. Corbett selected for the program in June.
The institute, based in Youngstown, Ohio, is one of 15 manufacturing institutes proposed by President Barack Obama as part of his strategy to revitalize manufacturing.
CMU, University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and Penn State University are contributing to the additive manufacturing initiative. Companies support the effort include Allegheny Technologies, a Pittsburgh specialty metals producer, and Kennametal, a Latrobe-area tool supplier.