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Top 25 of 2013: Building, one layer at a time

December 21, 2013

Logo of the National Institute of Standards and TechnologyAs 2013 draws to a close, NIU Today offers a look back at 25 of the top stories from the year.

No. 10

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced in September that NIU was chosen to receive $2.4 million to develop tools for process control and qualifying parts made with layer-by-layer additive-manufacturing processes.

Benefits of additive manufacturing include producing goods quickly and on-demand, with greater customization and complexity and less material waste.

“It is good to be at the cutting edge of technology,” said Promod Vohra, dean of NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, which will lead the research. “It is rewarding to be recognized by an agency such as NIST in our efforts to keep manufacturing vibrant and America competitive.”

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a group of new technologies that build up objects, usually by laying down many thin layers on top of each other. In contrast, traditional machining creates objects by cutting material away. A diverse array of manufacturing industries – from aircraft to medical devices and from electronics to customized consumer goods – are already using or exploring applications of these new technologies.