11/1/2014 | 2 MINUTE READ

Championing AM

Join forces with local groups to learn and apply new technology, and help make your state a leading center for manufacturing.

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Digging around for my next additive story, I stumbled across Faustson Tool (faustson.com), a leader in five-axis manufacturing technology that recently added 3D metal printing to its list of precision capabilities. And although it was not prepared to discuss the application of its new machine with me, this Colorado company does have an interesting tale to tell. It’s a story about working locally to become a champion for additive manufacturing. 

Building relationships with local industry and academia has enabled Faustson to streamline its workflow, increase machine capacity, fulfill more customer needs and focus on new developments such as additive manufacturing.

After years researching where this technology is headed, including making trips overseas to meet with users and 3D printer manufacturers, Faustson recently selected and invested in the 3D metal printer best-suited to its needs. Before it actually purchased the printer, however, Faustson worked with industry and academia to study the technology and plan for how it would implement it in its shop.

“We managed our money and business well, so we were able to buy equipment without assistance when we were ready,” Vice President Heidi Hostetter says. “But how many manufacturers are not in that position and need help to navigate and maximize available funding?”

Manufacturer’s Edge (camt.com), an assistance center dedicated to increasing the competitiveness of Colorado manufacturers, as well as the University of Colorado and Colorado School of Mines, have joined Faustston in its crusade to lead the state’s effort in learning and applying 3D metal printing to support and further its status as a leading center for aerospace and other types of manufacturing. The company is doing this not in a way that benefits just Faustson, but the entire state.

Manufacturer’s Edge brings together government, not-for-profit and industry resources to offer manufacturing-related programs and services. It is a state affiliate of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (nist.gov/mep), “a national network with hundreds of specialists who understand the needs of America’s small manufacturers.” This network, which consists of partnership centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, provides companies with access to public and private resources intended to “enhance growth, improve productivity, reduce costs and expand capacity.”

Faustson is also collaborating with its current customers, area manufacturers’ associations and local universities to design a curriculum to teach undergraduate engineering students to use 3D metal printing technology.

“Our good relationships with industry, academia and the Edge make us confident that we can help move this industry along in Colorado by finding the grants that are out there to capitalize on for the right AM R&D projects,” Hostetter says. For example, Faustson is working with the School of Mines and OEMs in alloys research with cobalt. It then plans to work with the Edge to find federal funding opportunities to cover endeavors like this.

Through its work with industry and academia, Faustson is adding value to its current customer base while sharing non-proprietary data that the Edge can disseminate to its contacts—spreading the knowledge. Maybe it’s time for you to champion AM for your area as well.

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