NIU’s Sciammarella selected as technical chair of South African forum on product development

A reporter for eNews Channel Africa interviews NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella about additive manufacturing.
A reporter for eNews Channel Africa interviews NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella about additive manufacturing.

NIU mechanical engineering professor Federico Sciammarella was chosen as technical chair for the upcoming 2012 Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa (RAPDASA) international conference.

The conference takes place Wednesday, Oct. 31, through Friday, Nov. 2,

According to its website, “RAPDASA embraces the complete product development value chain … RAPDASA aims to become a government-recognized activity or industry cluster/group, as it currently creates strategic links between academia, science councils and industry. It was started by volunteers, and is still being driven by individuals with a passion for innovative product development.”

Sciammarella became involved with RAPDASA last year when he served as the competency area manager for the Laser Materials Processing Group, part of the National Laser Centre in South Africa.

“My job was to ensure that our research projects were having a high impact on the South African economy. A new effort for this has to do with additive manufacturing, so naturally I joined RAPDASA,” he said.

Sciammerella’s research included trying to beneficiate a new Ti powder process being developed at the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research, to which the NLC belongs, via additive manufacturing.

Conventional machining, where material is removed from a solid piece, often produces waste. Additive manufacturing, however, builds parts with only the necessary amount of powder, preventing waste during the manufacturing process.

Sciammarella works with an NIU mechanical engineering student.
Sciammarella works with an NIU mechanical engineering student.

For South African industry, it offers a huge incentive.

“With South Africa being so far from common markets, it is hard for industry to stay competitive when there is long lead time for parts (that) cost much more because of the exchange rate,” Sciammarella said.

He helped launch a campaign that is bringing a lot of excitement to the South African market, which now has a chance to add value and save money as a result of using lasers in its business.

Because of his work with additive manufacturing in terms of research and education, Sciammarella was chosen to be technical chair for the RAPDASA national conference this year. He hopes to gain much from that experience.

“It will be great to go back to this conference and see all the quality work that will be presented,” he said. “My colleague, Dr. Matt Gonser (instructor in mechanical engineering at NIU), and I will present a paper on some of the work we are doing in the industry here, and solidify our ties with interested parties in South Africa.”

Sciammarella also will chair the South African Manufacturing Industry for Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop, a group for which he obtained funding to focus efforts in South Africa and develop a tight-knit network to help grow efforts across various industries.

Through his attendance at these conferences, Sciammarella plans to develop an international network of research and development in additive manufacturing to benefit the work of students and faculty at NIU. He aims to have students travel with him in the near future for an overseas course in laser materials processing, where they can then get hands-on experience at a top research facility.

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