UofM Makes Major Push into Additive Manufacturing

State-of-the-Art 3D Printing Technology Lab Planned for March 2018

December 11, 2017 - The University of Memphis today announced a groundbreaking Additive Manufacturing Initiative to enhance the application of advanced 3D printing technology in modern manufacturing. The initiative will be supported by a $2 million investment in equipment and laboratory infrastructure, robust collaboration with local industry and a team of faculty researchers.

"The University of Memphis is committed to becoming a recognized leader in Additive Manufacturing research to support industry and employers across the country," said UofM President M. David Rudd. "Stalwart partners Medtronic and FedEx are already supporting Additive Manufacturing research on our campus, as are others, including NASA and Naval Air Systems Command. But the new effort we're announcing today will take our work to the next level, positioning the university on the cutting-edge of this high-growth research arena and launching new, in-demand educational opportunities for current and prospective students."

Led by the Herff College of Engineering, the interdisciplinary Additive Manufacturing initiative involves faculty in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, Physics and Materials Science, and Chemistry. The University's FedEx Institute of Technology will also lend support to the initiative by establishing an Additive Manufacturing Research Cluster to seed novel work in this arena. Additionally, the University will develop new related coursework, a graduate certificate program and training programs for industry professionals, helping to address a regional skills gap in this rapidly emerging and growing new area.

The new laboratory is expected to open in March 2018.

"This investment will have a significant impact on the Herff College of Engineering and the entire region," said Herff Dean Dr. Richard Sweigard. "We will be the first institution of higher education in the Mid-South to have 3D metal printing capabilities. The research that will be conducted, and the students who will be educated will provide economic benefits for many years to come."

Part of the nation's push to revitalize manufacturing industries, Additive Manufacturing is among a new generation of advanced technologies enabling diverse industries to harness unprecedented degrees of manufacturing precision, efficiency and flexibility.

Additive Manufacturing eliminates much of the traditional manufacturing set-up requirements, such as casting molds or dies, plastic injection or forging tools, as well as many traditional manufacturing steps (e.g. machining or milling). This technique allows for fabrication of highly complex structures and a high degree of design freedom, making it well suited for cost-effective small batch or customized production of polymer, metal or hybrid devices.
Most recently, scientists have been working to extend this technology for use in biofabrication, or 3D bioprinting, by combining biological and biologically-friendly materials such as cells, gels or fibers to replace a diseased or injured tissue.

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Chuck Gallina | 901.678.1756 l cgallina@memphis.edu