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TechWorks Design Center Holds Open House

posted on Friday, July 1, 2016 in  College News

By: Jim Offner, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO—An air of potential business swirled around Cedar Valley TechWorks on Thursday afternoon as the University of Northern Iowa’s Metal Casting Center and Hawkeye Community College, as well as TechWorks, hosted dozens of manufacturers at an open house for their new Additive Manufacturing and Design Center.

Organizers say the Additive Manufacturing and Design Center is “the most technologically advanced 3D printing and design center in the United States.”

Jim Howard, plant manager at Hampton-based casting and parts manufacturer Seabee Corp., agreed with them.

His company already has done business with the Metal Casting Center, which has been operating for two years.

“I’ve known about the 3-D technology for about 20 years, but the technology hasn’t been available to the common manufacturers,” Howard said. “Since the patents ran out, it’s become more available because the technology is getting a lot better.”

Travis Frush, the Metal Casting Center’s project manager, was there to offer insights.

“I was talking about the opportunities to plan different aggregates to deal with a casting issue he’s got; we can do that here,” Frush said.

The Metal Casting Center’s Advanced Manufacturing Lab has considered TechWorks Campus its home since 2013, but the addition of the Design Center will allow for greater capabilities and outreach, Pilkington said.

The location focuses on additive manufacturing and is home to the Ex-One S-Max, the largest 3D printer of its type in North America.

At the open house, tours and demonstrations were given every 30 minutes all afternoon to give the community an opportunity to “witness the future of manufacturing and the opportunities now available to students and industry professionals in the area,” organizers said.

Center directors and UNI students explained the technology, showed printers in action and presented some finished designs, as visitors listened and asked questions.

A “good blend” of smaller to large manufacturers were expected to have representatives at the open house, said Randy Pilkington, director of UNI Business and Community Services.

“We’ll also have others from the community that just want to see the progress we’ve made with this facility, adding the design component,” he said as the event got underway.

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