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At OSU’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, Additive Builds Passion

By Alexandra Veneck Guest Contributing Writer

Jacob Rindler instructs a group of students at The Ohio State University Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME). (All images provided by CDME)

In high school, Jacob Rindler uncovered a passion for 3D printing. A Project Lead The Way program for engaging pre K-12 students in hands-on activities exposed Rindler to the first layers of his future career.

“When we got a 3D printer at my high school, I began creating my design, printing the prototype, holding it in my hand and then going back to the original design for modifications,” Rindler said. “As I learned computer-aided design and 3D printing simultaneously, I saw the apparent value of 3D printing and thought it would become prevalent everywhere. That immediately sparked my interest.”

Following graduation from The Ohio State University and time developing AM and advanced metals technologies at Northrop Grumman and Boeing Research and Technology, Rindler returned to his alma mater to help grow the 3D printing ecosystem. Now, he’s an additive manufacturing technology leader at Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME), an America Makes-affiliated research center. At CDME, Rindler works with students to develop their technical skills and career opportunities.

CDME uses industry-funded projects as hands-on, mentor-based experiences to integrate new technology into market-ready applications. Projects are executed in a 37,600-square-foot ITAR-compliant manufacturing campus within Ohio State’s Innovation District.

The AM Lab at CDME houses more than $6 million in AM equipment, including industrial 3D printers processing metals, polymers, composites, biomaterials and ceramics.

As an undergraduate student employee at CDME, Yusuf Abdi broadened his technical skills working on industrial projects. He’s leveraging those skills as a manufacturing engineer at GE.

Layering 3D printing innovation with workforce development

As a mentor and supervisor to CDME student employees, Rindler guides them to be the next generation of difference makers.

One such example is Yusuf Abdi. A former OSU undergraduate and CDME participant, Abdi became a manufacturing engineer with General Electric after graduating.

“Like most students, Yusuf was pretty green when he started,” Rindler recalled. “In many cases, students will start working with us underclassmen before they’ve taken their major-related classes. A lot of it starts with fundamental lab-centric tasks, getting trained on more equipment and become more efficient in data collection.”

An important part of the learning process is to get the students out of the labs and classrooms “to get internship experience with an industrial partner.” Rindler continued. “Yusuf did an internship with General Atomics, and when he came back, he was much more developed than when he started; teaching other students how to use equipment and working more on data analysis than data collection.”

Abdi’s CDME experience involved real, results-driven projects—one of which ultimately connected him to GE. Along with Ohio State and GE, the project brought collaborators from Proto Precision Additive Manufacturing Solutions, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy together under America Makes Project 3014. The objective involved developing multi-laser powder bed fusion machines to help industrialize additive manufacturing. The primary outcomes led to developing a standard work item, better processing strategies and data for implementing multi-laser machines.

The GE Additive Concept Laser M2 system installed at CDME is accessible to students, researchers and industry collaborators at Ohio State.

Adding industrial-scale capabilities in the heart of Ohio’s AM ecosystem

“Our mission is to grow additive manufacturing activities with our students, faculty and ecosystem partners,” said Edward Herderick, director of additive manufacturing at CDME. “Working with GE Additive to bring the latest in metal printing to CDME is an amazing opportunity to get our students involved while we work together to mature metal printing for more applications.”

To Rindler, CDME’s technical capabilities are one of the most visual reminders of the center’s extensive growth since he joined the team in 2018. When he started, he estimated the center had two industrial-scale AM machines. Now, CDME has a dozen.

“When I came into CDME, I would say we were theoretically starting our first build,” Rindler said. “We may have failed a build or two, but we’ve made modifications and are seeing a lot of success with our program.”

Industrial partners have taken notice. In March 2021, CDME announced that Cincinnati Incorporated (CI) placed its Medium Area Additive Manufacturing (MAAM) printer at CDME, bringing industrial-scale polymer and composite printing to students and researchers.

The addition of Cincinnati Inc.’s MAAM printer allows CDME to further differentiate itself as one of the global leaders in additive manufacturing, opening a new world of opportunities such as the ability to 3D print ULTEM, PEEK and PEKK at meter-scale.

In September 2021, a partnership between AddUp Inc. and CDME brought in a FormUp 350 Laser Powder Bed Fusion printer to the center. “AddUp was familiar with CDME and its robust AM program, so we were happy to partner with the facility to showcase the FormUp 350,” AddUp President Ken Wright said.

Other frequent CDME collaborators with Ohio ties include Open Additive (Dayton), America Makes (Youngs-town) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (Dayton).

“There is so much going on in Ohio in terms of 3D printing at universities, dynamic startups and industry,” said Herderick. “I think the key is having a practical engineering mindset grounded in the fact that we have partners driving investment and opportunity for young people to get involved with AM.”

R&D and experiential education

Furthering the mission, Rindler was part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Ohio State that was awarded a $500,000 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program through the Office of Naval Research. The award enabled CDME to purchase an openly controlled and monitored, multi-beam laser additive manufacturing system—reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S.

“This will allow us to push the limits of what is possible in additive manufacturing metallic components,” said Michael Groeber, primary investigator on the project and an associate professor in Integrated Systems Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. “It provides an opportunity to locally tune material structure and performance. The combination of open-control processing with robust in-process monitoring creates a testbed for discovering process-structure relationships needed to insert materials and manufacturing into the component design process.”

Rindler plans to use this system to validate better, faster strategies first developed by CDME during the America Makes Open-Source Additive Scanning Implementation Strategy (OASIS) Challenge. The OASIS Challenge, which Ohio State won, sought to advance state-of-the-art laser-based powder bed AM in temporal and spatial thermal management with innovative open-source scan strategy codes, algorithms and methods.

Ohio State graduate Aiden Acitelli, who recently started a position as a software engineer at JPMorgan Chase & Co., played a critical role in CDME’s award-winning solution. Like Abdi, Acitelli was also mentored and supervised by Rindler as an undergraduate CDME employee.

“Jacob kept my OASIS Challenge team heavily involved through the entire process,” Acitelli said. “I was given considerable freedom to read research papers, bring my ideas on the most optimal strategies, figure out how to link in with the America Makes baseline code and write all the nitty-gritty C++ implementations.

With AddUp’s FormUp 350 in their tool kit, CDME engineers can further push 3D printing innovation boundaries across a variety of industries including, but not limited to, aerospace, automotive, medical, energy, and tooling.

“I thrived in that environment and learned a lot about the process of idea generation and translating from theory and class ideas into actual implementation. The cherry on top was winning the challenge and getting performance metrics for our submissions, which helped affirm the quality of my code and gave me an excellent bullet point on my resume.”

Building a stronger result with a layered approach

By layering technology development and student growth, CDME is poised to break down existing paradigms for experienced-based education while changing the way undergraduate students are prepared to enter the AM workforce.

That spark Rindler felt when he uncovered the benefits of 3D printing in high school is an experience he wants to replicate for his undergraduate student employees.

“We’re focused on making AM more useful and widely implementable to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and the supply chain of our partners in the U.S. Department of Defense,” Rindler said. “We have to address both technology and workforce needs to accomplish this mission.”

Editor’s note: Until this spring, guest writer Alexandra Veneck was an undergraduate staff writer for CDME. SME congratulates her on receiving her bachelor’s degree from OSU.

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