3D printing and additive manufacturing/rapid prototyping have become an integral part of manufacturing. The concept is not new, but the technologies are always evolving. For any business or industry that incorporates additive manufacturing in their operations, keeping up with the changes can be a daunting task. That’s why more than 40 companies are members of the Rapid Prototyping Consortium (RPC) at MSOE.

Since 1991 MSOE has been a leader in the field. Consortium members gathered to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary in October. Manufacturing Hall of Fame inductee Scott Crump, inventor of the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process and co-founder of Strat2016_news_rpcasys Inc., delivered the keynote address at the event, focusing on the next frontier in additive manufacturing.

“MSOE has helped us pioneer this technology through their consortium,” said Crump. Despite its decades-long history, he predicts the best is yet to come for additive manufacturing. “It is just the beginning of additive manufacturing applications. There is huge opportunity in composite tooling, composite parts, fixtures and assembly tools, next generation injection molding and manufacturing production parts.” Crump encouraged consortium members to continue to partner with MSOE as technology advances.

“The RPC at MSOE cuts through the clutter and tells you what you need to know. They are experts in the field,” said Todd Grimm, president of T.A. Grimm & Associates. He referred to the RPC staff as “Sherpas,” who navigate the territory for their members. In his presentation, Grimm shared some of the newest products and technologies in additive manufacturing and explained its successful use is linked with the ability to blend innovation with practicality.

Mark Cotteleer, research director at Deloitte Services LLC, offered a presentation on industry 4.0. Consortium members learned how they could develop a business case for additive manufacturing technologies by disentangling the impacts it can have on supply chain vs. product evolution. “Additive manufacturing is not a panacea,” he said. “It’s not going to change everything, but it’s going to change some things in very important ways. It can address some of the challenging product design and supply chain issues.”

Manufacturing companies in the automotive, defense, water, medical device and health care industries comprise the consortium at MSOE, where members consult with each other and MSOE to develop cutting edge products and solutions. It’s cost effective and they rely on MSOE’s experts to help with R&D efforts. They also have access to leading additive manufacturing technologies at MSOE.

Four of the original founding members of the RPC remain as members today. They are: BRP US Inc., Kohler Co., The Master Lock Company and Snap-on Incorporated. For more information, contact Dr. Joe Musto, P.E., director of the RPC at (414) 277-7384 or visit msoe.edu/rpc.