Have you joined the additive bandwagon? Not too many years ago, additive manufacturing, or AM, was an emerging technology beyond the reach of small businesses, not to mention individuals. Today, our kids have access to it in their classrooms and businesses have incorporated it into their production lines and products. In fact, a significant number of companies are taking advantage of AM’s design flexibility to enhance their products. 

While even more companies would like to enter the AM market, AM technology itself is evolving at a high rate, making capital investment decisions difficult for small business. So, while AM offers the capability for a small business to disrupt traditional conventional supply chains and markets, how does one choose? If you are in the Utah composites industry, help is here!

The Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative—known as UAMMI—under sponsorship by America Makes, has partnered with Utah Science Technology and Research, or USTAR, to bring an emerging AM technology to Utah. Leveraging Utah’s rich legacy in composites, UAMMI took delivery of a composites-based additive manufacturing machine now located at USTAR’s Innovation Center just outside of Hill Air Force Base in Clearfield.  UAMMI will be prototyping parts for the Air Force to demonstrate this emerging technology, which has the potential to disrupt the way we think about composites manufacturing by enabling small, complex composite parts. The machine is also available for businesses to prototype their products or “try before you buy.”  Project lead engineer, Devin Young, (University of Utah doctoral candidate, dyoung@uammi.org) is on-hand to operate the machine and help in the digital representation and fabrication of your product. USTAR also has plastics AM machines on-site for use.

The decision to go additive need not be done in a vacuum. Prototyping facilities such as USTAR exist that can aid in the decision making. The only question remaining is—are you ready?