By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Yesterday’s ceremonial signing of an agreement between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Cincinnati Incorporated continued a long-standing relationship that also reinforced the region’s reputation as an advanced manufacturing technology hotspot.
In an event attended by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, ORNL and Ohio-based Cincinnati Incorporated signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to accelerate the commercialization of a machine to print large polymer parts faster and cheaper.
The signing occurred in a high bay area of ORNL’s new Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) off Hardin Valley Road in West Knoxville, where MDF staff created something special for the event.
Dignitaries participating in the CRADA signing sat in chairs manufactured through the additive manufacturing process, frequently referred to as 3-D printing. (EDITOR’S NOTE: See the picture in the upper left corner. The chair is all black in color.)
“It (the CRADA project) is another step in making the United States the destination for advanced manufacturing,” DOE Assistant Secretary David Danielson said.
Noting that “manufacturing is the backbone of the American economy,” he added, “You can’t just invent it here and manufacture it there or you can’t continue to invent it here.”
The ORNL-Cincinnati Incorporated partnership is designed to address the fact that current additive manufacturing technology has limitations, meaning only small prototype parts can be fabricated.
According to an ORNL news release, the goal of the CRADA is to build a system that is 200 to 500 times faster than current technology and capable of printing components made from polymers that are 10 times larger.
The Assistant Secretary’s theme of American competitiveness in advanced manufacturing was reiterated by Third District Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Andrew Jamison, Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Incorporated.
“This is part of making America great again,” the Congressman said. “This is next generation, game-changing technology . . . (that) will transform U.S. manufacturing,” Jamison added.
Danielson noted that the CRADA signing was consistent with DOE’s goal of having its national laboratories significantly increase their interaction with industries, something that ORNL and Cincinnati have done for a number of years.