ITAMCO attended an event at the White House hosted by the National Economic Council on Wednesday, December 21. The function was held in recognition of the progress made by ITAMCO and other U.S. manufacturers in the Manufacturing USA program. Daniel Neidig, vice president, and Joel Neidig, business development and technology manager, represented ITAMCO at the event.
“It was an honor for ITAMCO to be invited by President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, to participate in the emerging technology event held at the White House. Enhancing our industrial competiveness through advanced manufacturing initiatives has always been an essential principal of the company’s philosophy since its early beginnings over 60 years ago. Collaborating with various departments of the government and universities is a key strength of our organization. ITAMCO looks forward to being a stakeholder in Manufacturing USA and is excited to help solve industry-relevant manufacturing challenges in the future,” said Daniel Neidig.
Formally established in 2014, Manufacturing USA brings together industry, academia, and federal partners within a network of advanced manufacturing institutes to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and promote a robust and sustainable national manufacturing R&D infrastructure. Manufacturing USA consists of multiple linked Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. ITAMCO is an active member of two of these institutes—America Makes: The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).
ITAMCO and America Makes
ITAMCO is part of a team consisting of Johnson & Johnson, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh that was awarded a R&D fund by America Makes to commercialize the results of their work on additive manufacturing. The group’s project is titled “Parametric Design of Functional Support Structures for Metal Alloy Feedstocks.” The team’s mission is to codify the design rules for support structures used in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)—a form of additive manufacturing—and to inform and then automatically recommend the ideal part orientation and designs for optimized supports.
Currently during part builds, support structures are not only essential to laying part foundations and providing structural support, but are critical to eliminating part warp during powder recoating and improving heat extraction. However, few rules exist for designing support structures. Moreover, while AM machine tool software packages have the ability to add support structures, these existing capabilities are fairly primitive, not taking into consideration part orientation, distortion, or heat extraction uniformity.
The technology group at ITAMCO will take the results of the team’s work and write a plug-in application for Autodesk, a 3D-design software program.
ITAMCO and DMDII
ITAMCO is also part of a team that received an Applied Research and Development award from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). The other partners in the project are Palo Alto Research Center, MTConnect Institute and System Insights. The award-winning project is titled “Standards-Based Platform for Enterprise Communication Enabling Optimal Production and Self-Awareness,” or SPEC-OPS. The goal of SPEC-OPS is to make Smart Manufacturing a reality by connecting and configuring diverse machine tools, PLCs, sensors, and devices on the shop floor.
ITAMCO is the implementation site of SPEC-OPS because the MTConnect standard already connects many of their machine tools. “We will have a totally integrated shop floor. A job will be entered into our ERP system and then every piece of the job, from allocating materials, to manufacturing, to shipping and invoicing, will be automatically routed through the entire facility. Machines will be chosen based on the type of work and availability. And SPEC-OPS is dynamic—if a machine goes down, the job will be automatically rerouted,” said Joel Neidig.
“Manufacturing USA has given small- to medium-size enterprises like ITAMCO the opportunity to work along with larger public and privately held companies and universities to develop the latest technologies. The projects we’re developing now wouldn’t have happened without Manufacturing USA,” added Joel Neidig.