YSU additive manufacturing center adds high-temp furnace


By DENISE DICK

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Youngstown State University’s Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing keeps growing in its teaching, research and industry capabilities.

A high-temperature sintering furnace has been added to the lab in Moser Hall. The furnace allows final processing of objects created on the lab’s 3-D printers.

The furnace, which reaches temperatures as high as 4,712 degrees Fahrenheit, enables students and other researchers to sinter harder materials that require higher heat — especially ceramics and some metals. Because of its size, it also allows sintering of not only larger parts but more parts simultaneously.

YSU bought the TevTech furnace, which costs more than $150,000, with funding from the Ohio Board of Regents.

“Applications would be machine tooling, armor, high-temperature refractory materials, the aerospace industry for rocket nozzles,” said Brett Conner, director of advanced manufacturing and workforce initiatives at YSU and an associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.

Applications for harder metals include the aerospace industry and land and marine turbines.

It’s also applicable in the sintering of ceramic and metal composites. By combining with metals, ceramic becomes less brittle, Conner explained.

The 3-D printing process involves layering of a powder material with a binding agent. At the end of that, the fragile printed part must be sintered to cure it into a solid, porous piece.

The lab’s other, smaller furnaces heat to about 2,000 degrees, useful to sinter other metals.

As additive manufacturing is an evolving industry, other equipment could be added.

Working in the lab Thursday was Matt Caputo of Hermitage, Pa., a first year Ph.D. student in materials science engineering. He is researching shape memory alloys. Upon earning his Ph.D., he hopes to either become a professor or work in research and development.

YSU’s CIAM opened in January 2014 with two 3-D printers bought with both university funds and those provided through the Ohio Third Frontier as part of the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering project. The printers totaled about $400,000.

YSU was the second university in the world with this particular equipment installed and operating.

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