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Additive manufacturing could turn 'rust belt' into 'tech belt'

3:10 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Exciting technology is taking shape in Northeast Ohio. It's additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, a concept that's simpler than you might think.

"If you've made a layer cake, that's additive manufacturing," explains Malcolm Cooke of Case Western Reserve University.

"Two pieces of cake. Some cream in between. Plonk it together. That's additive manufacturing."

Traditional manufacturing is considered subtractive as a block of material is whittled down to produce an object, whereas additive manufacturing builds an object layer by layer.

"Very complex parts can be made relatively quickly," says Cooke.

The technology has caught the eye of scientists at NASA Glenn Research Center for its cost effectiveness and convenience.

"It allows you to look at something you need, a part you need, and actually go and make that part," says Carol Tolbert, of NASA.

Exploring the possibilites of additive manufacturing is a priority of the Obama administration, which established a $1 billion initiative to grow the industry in the U.S.

Part of that push involves bringing universities, including Case Western, together with NASA and private firms to teach today's students about the technology of tomorrow.

"They're all working on helping develop that workforce," says Tolbert. "And we're hoping it will stay right here in Northeast Ohio."

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