UTEP named first Satellite Center for America Makes

May 5th, 2015
UTEP's W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation has become America Makes' first satellite center because of its unique blend of additive manufacturing equipment and facilities to perform fundamental research.One impressive, ongoing project is to create a 3-D printer that can fabricate multi-material aerospace components with multi-functional purposes. The machine will not only be able to print multiple materials using a series of 3-D printers, but will become a manufacturing suite all on its own -- with abilities like micromachining, robotic placement of electronic components, and the ability to connect electronic components with wiring. Credit: JR Hernandez / UTEP News Service
America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is proud to announce its plans to open its first America Makes Satellite Center on the campus of the institute's platinum-level member, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), in conjunction with UTEP's renowned W.M. Keck Center for 3-D Innovation.

"Real-world technology transition takes place because of the activities and pursuits that collaborative and symbiotic relationships provide," said Kevin Creehan, Ph.D., America Makes Deputy Director of Technology Transition. "With this new America Makes Satellite Center model, we are able to expand our current regional, industrial and technological footprint while further maximizing the reach and capabilities of the satellite through enhanced collaboration. We are proud to name America Makes member The University of Texas at El Paso as the site for the first America Makes Satellite Center."

As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3-D printing (3DP), America Makes is the nation's leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation and innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, nongovernment agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, America Makes partners are working together to innovate and accelerate AM and 3DP to increase our nation's global manufacturing competitiveness.

To ensure the long-term success of an expansion, America Makes decided to roll out the strategy as a pilot program, similar to the institute's own founding as the pilot Institute for the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) infrastructure. A short list of potential members for consideration for an America Makes Satellite Center was generated and compared to America Makes' prerequisites and operational requirements. After internal and external vetting and an on-site evaluation, UTEP with its acclaimed W.M. Keck Center for 3-D Innovation was ultimately selected as the pilot America Makes Satellite Center.

"This expansion strategy to establish our first satellite center at UTEP marks a new level of national reach for America Makes," said Ralph Resnick, America Makes founding director and National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) president and executive director. "It also capitalizes on the synergies between America Makes and UTEP's Keck Center, as both of our organizations are dedicated to accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing and 3-D printing technologies to increase our nation's global manufacturing competitiveness."

"This new relationship is beneficial for both America Makes and UTEP," said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., Keck Center director and professor of mechanical engineering at UTEP. "UTEP brings an armada of state-of-the-art equipment, cutting edge research, education and workforce training to the partnership, and UTEP stands to benefit from the national and international spotlight on America Makes. NCDMM, the parent organization, has a broad base of defense and industrial partners that will afford UTEP dramatic new opportunities."

UTEP President Diana Natalicio enthusiastically described the new relationship as "a testament to the preeminence of research underway at UTEP. Exciting new technologies developed on this campus are attracting the attention of the nation and the world."

Ed Morris, America Makes director and NCDMM vice president, added, "On behalf of all of us at America Makes, we are excited to make this announcement as it demonstrates the strength and the success of the collaboration model that America Makes was founded upon. We envision that the America Makes Satellite Center at UTEP's Keck Center will be the first of many in a future, expansive network of satellite centers throughout the country. We look forward to working closely with UTEP and the Keck Center to get the America Makes Satellite Center up and running."

With more than $80 million in annual research spending, UTEP is dedicated to becoming the first national research university serving a 21st century student demographic. The University's outstanding record of receiving extremely competitive grant awards reflects the quality of UTEP's faculty and their sustained commitment to excellence while also maintaining an academic environment dedicated to addressing the educational needs of students.

Founded in 2001 as part of a $1 million grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation, UTEP's Keck Center is a lab like no other. Led by Wicker, the Keck Center features a 13,000-square-foot, state-of-the art facility with more than 50 additive manufacturing machines and more than 50 involved faculty, staff, students and researchers with multiple successful national and international collaborations. The lab showcases a unique blend of additive manufacturing equipment and facilities to perform fundamental research, allowing for trailblazing discoveries to be made in limitless arenas of science including 3-D printed electronics, airplanes and satellite components, human augmentation, biomedical implants and future energy systems.

Currently, UTEP's Keck Center is leading an America Makes member team comprised of the University of New Mexico, Youngstown State University, the Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., rp+m Inc., and Stratasys Inc., on a $2.2 million award grant to further 3-D printing technologies for rapid manufacturing of aerospace systems.

Provided by The University of Texas at El Paso

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