W.M. Keck Center | Photo by UTEP
The University of Texas at El Paso’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation was recently awarded a $225,000 grant from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) for the acceleration and development of metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology for defense applications.
Specifically, this project will focus on rapid AM alloy development, low-cost powders for AM applications, and process qualification and verification using powder-bed fusion process monitoring technology.
This grant comes during Phase II of an ongoing multi-year effort with the Army Research Laboratory.
“The Keck Center is receiving this award, not only because of the magnitude of capabilities and equipment that we have available, but also because of the quality of students working here, many of which go on to professions within the Department of Defense,” said Ryan Wicker, one of the grant’s co-authors, and founder and director of the Keck Center.
Leading the research is Francisco Medina, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of technology and engagement for the Keck Center.
Medina emphasizes that this effort can serve to advance 3D-printing technology by improving manufacturing processes while providing low-cost materials. He works closely with a group of 15 undergraduate and graduate students as well as a post-doctoral scholar.
“We have some of the best equipped facilities in the world,” Medina said. “We are revolutionizing some of the ways castings and products are being manufactured by producing low cost, exceptionally lighter designs.”
UTEP’s impactful and relevant research strength is attracting the attention of aerospace, medical, automotive, defense, and oil and gas industries, to name a few. Companies from countries such as Germany, Mexico, and elsewhere are visiting UTEP to learn about the technology being harnessed at the University.
“The Army Research Lab continues to see benefit from working with UTEP,” Medina said. “Lockheed Martin, Ametek, Honeywell, and other defense manufacturers have been investing in the Keck Center for some time, providing funding for students and research projects in defense.”