The University of Utah and its partners have embarked on an additive manufacturing program to move metals additive manufacturing (metal 3D printing) from a prototyping method to a mainstream production technique. Incorporating MAM into companies manufacturing process can expand product offerings, shorten development cycle times, increase economic diversification, and allow entrance into new markets.

Metal Additive Manufacturing is a technology that produces three-dimensional metal parts layer by layer by transmitting a digital data file to a machine that builds the parts. It began many years ago and is now considered to be one of the most dynamic and game-changing manufacturing technology in play today.

Through a grant project (described below), the University of Utah, Colorado School of Mines, and other participants are working to help local defense contractors integrate metal additive manufacturing into their company. 

Unlike plastics 3D printing, additive manufacturing of metals requires a high level of skill, expertise and specialized know-how to adjust and tune the manufacturing process for a specific part geometry, material or desired functional outcome. This process is both expensive and time-consuming and it can often take years to produce a single “A-Basis Allowable” part. Because of these optimization challenges, wide-spread adoption of metal additive manufacturing for production purposes has been slow.

The grant project will address this challenge by establishing a platform that combines machine learning with a cloud-based database of optimization parameters that will dramatically reduce optimization time.

Our emerging platform will address major challenges of metals additive manufacturing and includes:

  • Design considerations for metal additively manufactured parts
  • Control, certification and optimization of parts
  • Consistency of machine performance

Machine Learning in Additive Manufacturing

uammi-metal-additive-manufacturingThe difficulty of parameter optimization lies in the number of variables in the printing process which include, laser heat , laser speed, metal particle size and other metal powder constituents, among many others. To date, optimizing these parameters meant a trial and error process of printing an individual part thousands of times under different conditions and physically testing each one of them. Our program is designed to combine printing parameters and physical testing data to inform computer models of ideal parameters to needed to achieve desired structural properties of 3D printed parts.

DoD-OEA Support for Metal Additive Manufacturing

uammi-metal-additive-manufacturingThis program is supported by a grant from the DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The overarching goal of this project focuses on networking past, present, and potential Defense-supported manufacturers directly with advanced metal additive manufacturing research and development centers to create a new manufacturing platform. This program will advance defense manufacturer’s economic and workforce resilience in response to changes in Defense spending, by efficiently using additive manufacturing to shorten product development cycles, expanding product mix to enter non-Defense related markets.

Get Involved

A substantial component of this program is educating contractors about the benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) and the use of machine learning that will allow manufacturers the opportunity to expand product offerings into new non-Defense related markets and provide resilient employment and value to society- independent of Defense spending levels. Our current efforts are focused on companies in Colorado and Utah .

If you are interested in learning more about metals additive manufacturing, contact us today!

University of Utah
Manufacturer’s Extension Partnership (MEP)
1495 East 100 South
MEK 1121
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Email: info@mep.utah.edu
Phone: 801.587.0713

Grant Partners, Participants & Funding

The Additive Manufacturing grant project is being carried out through key partners.

Material Characterization at the University of Utah


The University of Utah’s Tribology & Precision Engineering Laboratory is led by Bart Raeysmaekers, who is also the Principal Investigator on the metal additive manufacturing grant.  Bart specializes in micro and nanoscale tribology and surface engineering, (elasto) hydrodynamic and thin film lubrication, ultra-thin protective coatings, and processing and manufacturing of novel engineered materials. To learn more please visit: https://mech.utah.edu/precision/

The University of Utah’s Multiscale Mechanics & Materials Lab (MMMLab), led by Ashley Spear, conducts cutting-edge research at the nexus of materials and structures. They couple materials characterization with high-performance computing and data-driven analysis (including machine learning) to address a wide range of research topics. Ashley oversees the research portion of the program and specializes in characterizing and simulating three dimensional cracking in metallic structures, 3D finite element analysis, concurrent multiscale modeling and microscale characterization of metallic materials, including high-energy X-ray diffraction microscopy. To learn more please visit: https://mmm.mech.utah.edu/

Owen Kingstedt oversees the University of Utah’s High Strain-Rate Mechanics of Materials Lab and is primarily responsible for characterization of 3D printed materials in this program. The lab focuses on the study of the deformation and failure processes that take place in materials under extreme conditions. Current conditions of interest are high strain-rate loading and high temperature environments. Advanced diagnostic techniques are paired with existing experimental techniques to gain insight of deformation processes across multiple length scales. Through the approaches, understanding and insights are gained towards the development and refinement of emerging light weight structural materials for aerospace, automotive, industrial, and defense capabilities. To learn more please visit https://kingstedt.mech.utah.edu/

Dr. Wenda Tan oversees the Laboratory of Laser-based Manufacturing and specializes in modeling process dynamics and microstructural evolution of laser-based manufacturing processes, including additively manufactured metals. The labs goal is to invent new techniques and improve existing techniques of laser-based manufacturing, striving to improve the accuracy, efficiency and product properties of the manufacturing processes. To learn more please visit: https://tanlab.mech.utah.edu/

Utah Outreach


The University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Utah. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing manufacturing. It’s focus is on helping small and mid-sized manufacturers generate business results and thrive in today’s technology-driven economy. The network comprises the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and its 1,300 trusted advisors and experts at nearly 600 MEP service locations, providing any U.S. manufacturer with access to resources they need to succeed. https://mep.utah.edu/

Professional Education at the University of Utah implements workforce education and is primarily involved in designing, organizing and delivering educational workshops. As a department, the Professional Education group provides companies with up-to-the-minute knowledge and cutting-edge skills that will make them highly marketable and extremely valuable. Classes leverage the deep resources of the University of Utah, including an experienced staff and cutting-edge equipment. The classes and certificate programs are designed to give students tangible skills that translate immediately into positive results in the business world. The instructors are all successful business professionals who use their experience to provide hands-on training. https://continue.utah.edu/proed/index

Materials Data-Informatics at Colorado School of Mines


Aaron Stebner of the Colorado School of Mines is the Technical Director for the additive metal manufacturing progam. Stebner is a world Leader in advancing characterization of and multi-scale modeling of metals. Dr. Stebner is also the Technical Director for The Colorado School of Mines’ Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT). ADAPT is a membership-based organization that solves challenges in additive manufacturing using data informatics-driven approaches. ADAPT is headquartered at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. To learn more please visit: https://adapt.mines.edu/


Colorado Outreach


Manufacturer’s Edge is Colorado’s Manufacturers Extension Partnership (MEP) organization and provides manufacturer outreach and support activities. Manufacturer’s Edge encourages the strength and competitiveness of Colorado manufacturers through onsite technical assistance through coaching, training, and consulting, collaboration-focused industry programs, and leveraging government, university and economic development partnerships. www.manufacturersedge.com/

Research at Carnegie Mellon

The work of Dr. Tony Rollett at Carnegie Mellon University is focused on additive manufacturing, especially 3D printing of metals; statistical methods for describing and constructing microstructures in three dimensions; microstructure-property relationships in crystallographically textured materials; grain boundaries, their anisotropic properties and their impact on microstructural evolution; grain growth and recrystallization; structure and properties of nano-laminate composites; computer simulation of microstructural evolution and properties of materials; texture- and interface- sensitive properties, e.g. strength, fatigue resistance, corrosion resistance. https://www.cmu.edu/engineering/materials/people/faculty/bios/rollett.html



This project is funded by the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The OEA works with communities who are facing potential shifts in economic stability because of changes within the defense industry. By leveraging the full capabilities of the federal government, they help these towns, cities and states plan for and implement a future that is both sustainable and successful. https://www.oea.gov/

For Metal Additive Manufacturing Info, Please Contact:
University of Utah
Department of Mechanical Engineering
1495 East 100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84112