Penn State’s Additive Manufacturing Lab is a Global Leader in Emerging Industry

When it comes to additive manufacturing, Penn State’s Center for Innovative Metal Processing Through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D), is a world leader.

“Very few places have the depth and broad range of capacity that we have here at Penn State. No one in the United States is close to our range of abilities,” explained Rick Matukanitz, Director of the CIMP. “We have a suite of machines that few others have in this extremely competitive arena.”

Located in Innovation Park at Penn State, the CIMP-3D has launched a University-wide initiative to coordinate and exploit the intellectual property created by Penn State research and development.

Tim Simpson, Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is working with CIMP-3D in reaching out to individuals who need to have real results that can be used in various business applications. 

“We do additive manufacturing for critical applications,” said Simpson. “Our 3D printing equipment allows us to print metal parts that meet critical standards. They are not plastic.”

CIMP currently works with the aerospace, medical, oil and gas, and defense industries. 

“Subtractive manufacturing, in which you take a large piece of metal and create a component, results in the waste of a lot of material,” said Matukanitz. “In additive manufacturing, we add material, so the process wastes far less of the very expensive metals.”

The CIMP-3D uses high energy sources -- laser beams for example -- and powdered metals to add layer by layer to create a part. The powdered metals used in CIMP-3D’s equipment are provided by many Pennsylvania-based companies. 

The metal printers offer several options for creating parts. One printer has a maximum size of 10 inches by 10 inches by 12 inches tall. The other is capable of producing parts that are 30 inches by 20 inches by 20 inches high. 

The CIMP-3D is fortunate to have these world-class machines that cost millions of dollars and demand great expertise to operate.

“We are making steel and titanium parts and working with the ‘American Makers’ initiative, said Matukanitz. “We are a major player in this area and have gotten attention worldwide.”

Simpson added, “CIMP-3D is utilizing the broad resources of the University, from basic research capabilities all the way through commercial transition. We've been doing applied research for many years.”

In the last 12 months, the CIMP-3D has accelerated its production of functional components. “What we are hoping to do is draw new companies in that need additive manufacturing. We hope this leads to job creation. We want to act as a magnet, to show companies how to take advantage of the R & D done here. We want to attract industry and lead the resurgence in manufacturing.”

Matukanitz and Simpson agree that the CIMP-3D’s location provides a great advantage in supporting their efforts.

“We do conferences here at the Penn Stater, attracting 400-500 business leaders and entrepreneurs from across the country. It’s a huge plus to have that facility in walking distance. Plus, Innovation Park is where you meet entrepreneurs and startups. It leads us to opportunities that we can’t get anywhere else.”