In a story that feels very much about restoring balance to the world, in line with the Navajo tradition, the Navajo Nation’s NTUCAM (Navajo Technical University Center for Advanced Manufacturing) is partnering with Optomec, a global supplier of production-grade metal AM systems, to head into and lead the future of manufacturing.
Optomec has delivered its LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System to NTU for education, research and workforce development in advanced metal additive manufacturing. Optomec’s LENS 3D Hybrid CA System is the AM industry’s first atmosphere-controlled system for additive and subtractive processing of metals. It combines Optomec’s established LENS technology with a CNC automation platform. NTU purchased the directed energy deposition machine with a National Science Foundation grant for use in its new Center for Advanced Manufacturing, expected to open in 2020.
NTU is one of 37 North American Tribal Colleges. The NTU Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NTUCAM) was established to provide a hands-on, culturally relevant learning environment for developing a scientific and engineering professional workforce to support the advanced manufacturing industry. It houses leading-edge equipment and training on 3D modeling and simulation, polymer and metal additive manufacturing, advanced manufacturing post-processing techniques, materials testing and characterization, and metrology.
“We are creating a state-of-the-art lab with leading-edge technology that spans the whole metal additive manufacturing ecosystem right here on the Navajo Nation, giving our students access to critical skills for the future,” said H. Scott Halliday, director of NTU’s Center for Digital Technology and visionary behind the Center for Advanced Manufacturing. “The Optomec LENS is a critical element of our vision and will be the flagship metal additive manufacturing system in the center, where we will implement an ecosystem education method to comprehensively train students to enter the workforce and will provide high-quality research and internship opportunities. Optomec’s LENS system was chosen because of its hybrid capabilities, fast build times and versatility to perform a wide range of tasks, from creating functionally graded materials to repairing parts.”
The NTU Center for Advanced Manufacturing will create a hands-on learning environment to promote education, research and workforce development for additive manufacturing. The Optomec LENS System will also be instrumental in the NTU Bachelor of Applied Science degree in advanced manufacturing and in elevating the Center’s research capabilities, metrology and testing services to industry and other institutions.
“We are happy that LENS will play a key role in the NTU’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which underscores the critical nature of additive technology to future industries,” said Tom Cobbs, Optomec LENS product manager. “What’s remarkable about this center is how – under one roof – students have access to advanced equipment and cross-discipline training in everything from CAD to metal AM processing and machining, metrology and materials testing. Scott is doing an incredible service for NTU students and the companies they will ultimately work for by preparing them to become valuable assets post-graduation.”