Profile: Additive Manufacturing Center, University of Northern Iowa

Profile: Additive Manufacturing Center, University of Northern Iowa

By Lea Hensel, Business and Community Services

Tomorrow marks the fifth annual Manufacturing Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the industry, it’s career possibilities, and the advancements that have propelled manufacturing beyond the old, traditional assembly line. And one Iowa organization is continuously advancing additive manufacturing and positioning Iowa as a leader in the industry – the Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC), part of the Metal Casting Center at the University of Northern Iowa.

Continuously growing and expanding, the center recently added a state-of-the-art student engineering center, a plastics printing lab, and a robotic mold machining center, which happens to be the largest of its kind in North America. That’s in addition to the six 3D printers they already own that have the ability to print in sand, metal, plastic.

The center provides industry service right alongside research and development. With R&D, AMC has developed new domester printing materials that reduced the cost of 3D sand printing by more than 80%. And they were involved in the development of low-VOC non-flammable printer cleaning fluid that reduces fire, environmental and worker safety risks, as well as environmentally safe inorganic resin systems to be used in sand printing technology.

Working with a wide array of businesses from small to large and private to public, the staff and students have the capability to use special materials and/or processes that aren’t even commercially available yet.

Yes, the students get right into the mix of things at the facility. For the fall 2017 semester, AMC has 27 student employees from five different UNI academic programs. They have the opportunity to be involved in research projects first-hand and are highly recruited throughout the industry upon graduation. Of those 27, two are graduate students who also do direct customer support, present research papers at national conferences, and even get their research published in the best industry publications. AMC fully prepares them to walk out of UNI with a top-tier job as a leading expert in the field.

UNI’s AMC/MCC is definitely positioning Iowa as the leader in additive manufacturing. In fact, because of their knowledge, expertise and direct industry outreach, Iowa now has the most private companies using 3D sand printing technology in the United States. That’s right, in the entire country!

During tomorrow’s Manufacturing Day, the AMC will be having an open house at the facility in Waterloo, IA. The AMC staff already strives to revolutionize the industry and introduce its students to the possibilities, but they are continuously hosting special guests from legislators to school field trips in order to showcase their efforts and provide people a real example of what manufacturing looks like today. To learn more about the Additive Manufacturing Center and Metal Casting Center, visit

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