The University of Northern Iowa buys a $1.5 million XONE printer
On Thursday, UNI’s Metal Casting Center, which is just beginning some of its operation at TechWorks, took delivery on a massive $1.5 million 3-D printer that center leaders say will give area manufacturers previously unavailable access to time- and cost-cutting technology.
“The printer will be used to strengthen Iowa's industrial base by bringing advanced manufacturing technology to TechWorks and the state through service to the castings industry under the name of Rapid Casting Technologies,” said Jerry Thiel, the center’s director. “It brings the ability to really help advanced manufacturing technology in the Cedar Valley, if not all of Iowa."
The Metal Casting Center, which is part of the Department of Technology at UNI, also will conduct research in alternate materials to advance the 3D printing process and work with regional companies to evaluate the benefits of the technology according to Thiel.
The unit, a product of Germany-based Ex One Pro Metal, is expected to be in operation by the end of October.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority, through the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance, provided $1.2 million in funding for the printer, with the university and the Metal Casting Center paying for the balance.
Thiel said the printer is one of the largest in North America and can produce a solid part with a volume of more than 13 cubic feet.
“We look at the casting used in 97 percent of the durable goods being produced in North America, and it would be of interest to casting producers in automotive and tractors to something as complicated as a computer,” Thiel said, discussion potential applications for the printer. “There’s been interest from all over the country.
"We’re working with organizations as far east as Youngstown, Ohiio, and into Pennsylvania that have interest in partnering with us, either by utilization of the services or following our model of research into the industry or self-sufficiency,” he said.