Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved a $1.5 million Strategic Infrastructure Program (SIP) grant to the University of Northern Iowa’s (UNI) Metal Casting Center (MCC).
“The funding is an example of Iowa’s commitment to support growth in the manufacturing sector through advanced technologies,” says Jerry Thiel, MCC’s Director. “Several equipment manufacturers have already expressed their interest in partnering with the university to explore new opportunities through joint research and development programs.”
Over the past four years, the Additive Manufacturing Center facility, located at TechWorks Campus in Waterloo, IA, has expanded its large-format sand printing services to include a student engineering center, polymer printing lab, and a robotic mold machining center. The SIP grant will continue this expansion into investment castings. “This funding provides an opportunity to further expand UNI’s role in keeping Iowa as the leader in additive manufacturing for investment castings and support businesses across the state,” says Randy Pilkington, Director of UNI’s Business and Community Services.
Projects funded by the SIP must have a goal of providing a competitive advantage to the private sector or create needed physical infrastructure in Iowa. The new equipment that will be purchased will do just that, allowing the MCC to advance metal casting technology in the state which will then be transferred throughout the industry with MCC assisting in its adoption and utilization.
“This is a rare opportunity to serve as an innovative leader in building a technology that can transform the castings industry,” concludes Pilkington.