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UConn, Pratt & Whitney Open Additive Manufacturing Lab

Pratt & Whitney's Paul Adams speaking at the opening the Additive Manufacturing Center at University of Connecticut.

Pratt & Whitney’s Paul Adams speaking at the opening the Additive Manufacturing Center at University of Connecticut. (Ariel Dowski, University of Connecticut)

Aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and University of Connecticut are collaborating on a laboratory to research 3-D printing as a manufacturing technique at the university’s Storrs campus. The company, a division of United Technologies, is expected to spend $8 million over the next five years on the university’s Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Center.

The university says the center is the first facility of its kind to work with metals rather than plastics. The lab aims to advance research and development on additive manufacturing, as well as train engineers and designers in manufacturing technology. The company says it spent $4.5 million on the lab, with another $3.5 million in expenditures planned over the next five years.

Pratt & Whitney engineers, with university faculty and students, plan to develop new fabrication techniques for producing complex parts in high demand in aerospace, biomedical, and other industries. The Additive Manufacturing Center will have advanced 3-D manufacturing equipment including two electron beam melting devices used to make large, complex metal parts at high temperatures.

“Additive manufacturing is complementary to traditional methods by enabling new innovation in design, speed and affordability, and is necessary to build the next generation of jet engines,” says Pratt & Whitney chief operating officer Paul Adams, who spoke at the center’s opening last Friday. “We are currently using additive manufacturing to build complex components with extreme precision for the flight-proven PurePower commercial jet engine.”

The university says the new Additive Manufacturing Center supports the U.S. government’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership initiative that began in June 2011. That program encourages collaborations between industry, universities, and the federal government to increase competitiveness in manufacturing through development of advanced materials, components, and technologies.

The following video tells more about additive manufacturing and the Pratt & Whitney center at UConn.

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