Auburn University has established a new Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing and selected Tony Overfelt, the William and Elizabeth Reed Professor of Mechanical Engineering, as its inaugural director.
Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3-D printing, is a growing sector of the manufacturing industry. Using this advanced technology, manufacturers can save time and money by printing objects out of plastics, metals and other materials and using them in the manufacturing process.
“The creation of the Center for Industrialized Additive Manufacturing will help put Auburn at the forefront of this growing field of research,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “This reaffirms our college’s commitment to advancing research in manufacturing, which is vital to the state of Alabama and the nation.”
The center has been awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research ways for smaller manufacturers to use additive manufacturing for reliable, high-volume production of metal parts.
As the center’s new director, Overfelt sees an opportunity to make Alabama a leader in additive manufacturing and spur workforce development by immersing students in this new technology.
“Alabama has more installed additive manufacturing capacity than any other state and most countries,” Overfelt said. “One of our long-term goals is to make the state of Alabama the go-to place for additive manufacturing.”
Overfelt said Auburn has invested heavily in this field by hiring new faculty with expertise in additive manufacturing and creating state-of-the-art facilities. The university has also purchased new equipment on par with that used at the Auburn-based GE Aviation plant, one of the leading pioneers in implementing industrialized additive manufacturing.
Overfelt joined Auburn University in 1991, advancing to the rank of full professor while leading major research initiatives involving applications-focused research partnerships among government agencies, the private sector and leading research universities. During his time at Auburn, Overfelt has been the principal investigator on over $22 million of externally funded research.
Overfelt received his bachelor’s degree in engineering science from Tennessee Technological University in 1978 before earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1981 and 1984, respectively.