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Center of Excellence

Auburn chosen as founding member in global additive manufacturing initiative

MRI MachineThe Auburn University engineering faculty is at the forefront in the emerging field of additive manufacturing technology, also known as 3-D printing.

This year, Auburn was selected to partner with ASTM International, a global standards organization, to create the ASTM Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Among the organization’s partners, which include applied technology developer EWI, the U.K.-based Manufacturing Technology Centre and NASA, Auburn is the only academic institution represented.

The university is home to yet another leading force in additive manufacturing -- the Auburn-based National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, or NCAME. The center formed as a partnership with NASA in 2017.

Through both these state-of-the-art programs, Auburn is helping to formulate the future of standards, regulations and certifications that are created for additive manufacturing even as the use of 3-D printing spreads exponentially worldwide, said Nima Shamsaei, director of NCAME.

"ASTM develops the standards for additive manufacturing, and at Auburn we have faculty with expertise and background in both standardization and mechanical characterization," Shamsaei said. "Naturally, we were a very good fit for this effort. Being the only university among the partners, we lead the education and workforce development component of the ASTM Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, in addition to supporting research activities."

Additive technology reduces waste in manufacturing by rapidly creating highly complex shapes to produce parts that are also lighter than traditional components. It has the potential to transform the manufacturing realm, giving engineers new methods to create custom parts for manufacturers in the aerospace, biomedical and automobile industries.

Scott Thompson, associate professor in mechanical engineering, said both the ASTM partnership and the cutting-edge research at NCAME has put Auburn in a rare position among higher education institutions.

"We are proud to be part of one of the very first centers of excellence in additive manufacturing in the entire country, and one of the few in the world," Thompson said of NCAME.

Auburn’s diverse faculty pool is focused on multiple aspects of additive manufacturing, including experts who are diving deep into research on materials science, mechanical characterization, supply-chain management and the rapid integration of the technology into both a wide range of industries and the U.S. government.

"These are all really important when it comes to additive manufacturing and how it’s revolutionizing industry," Thompson said.