Virginia's CCAM readying new labs for laser additive manufacturing work

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Richmond, VA -- The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) is prepping a new research facility, which will include capabilities for laser additive manufacturing. The center also has added three project leaders to help shape research projects in focus areas of manufacturing systems and surface engineering.

CCAM is a collaborative research center combining global manufacturing companies, the state's research universities (U. Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth U., and Virginia Tech), and in-house engineers to accelerate development of advanced manufacturing techniques into commercial production-line use.

CCAM's new state-of-the-art 60,000 ft2 facility in Prince George County (just south of Richmond), opening in mid-September, will have large-scale production labs, high-bay and open production space, and other tools. The high-bay production space will include a laser powder welding cell for additive manufacturing research, a CCAM representative tells ILS, but specific projects involving that equipment have not yet been fully defined. However, one might glean some clues from the new site's location adjacent to Rolls-Royce’s jet engine components plant, and CCAM's industry membership roster including Rolls Royce and turbine part repairer Chromalloy. Laser additive manufacturing is being adopted by GE for jet engine parts, for example, to significantly reduce weight and material use.

The new hires, meanwhile, will spearhead work into CCAM's broader focus areas in surface engineering and manufacturing systems. Kevin M. Farinholt, new project leader of manufacturing systems, will head up efforts to assign resources, manage timelines, and complete projects in CCAM’s manufacturing systems research program. Part of his job also will be to spearhead federal fundraising efforts. He previously worked within Los Alamos National Labs' technical staff researching energy, manufacturing, and engineering initiatives. The two other hires, Benjamin Zimmerman (from Pratt & Whitney, where he developed turbine and combustor coatings) and Matt Stremler (via Newport News Shipbuilding with a background primarily in polymeric coatings) will lead projects in surface engineering, primarily in coatings and related processes and materials.