Laser Engineered Net Shaping is the bleeding edge process that Albuquerque firm Optomec brings to the additive manufacturing table. The metal and electronics industrial manufacturing specialists were chosen last February by America Makes in an initiative aimed at speeding the adoption of its technologies, and now Optomec has completed an agreement with Technology Education Concepts (TEC) to move metal 3D printing on campus and to technical institutions throughout the United States.

The LENS process uses a high power laser to fuse powdered metals into fully dense, three-dimensional structures. The process takes place within a hermetically sealed chamber where oxygen and moisture levels are controlled to within 10 parts per million. This environment ensures the correct material properties result, and its systems are used to produce parts or to enhance existing parts produced with conventional methods. The process works with a range of metals including titanium, stainless steel, nickel, cobalt and a long list of engineering alloys.

"We're very excited by our new partnership with TEC, a company passionate about providing secondary and post-secondary schools with 3D solutions used to teach today's young people about the fields of engineering, design, manufacturing and architecture," says Ken Vartanian, Marketing Vice President at Optomec. "Our partnership will help accelerate the creation of a new generation of engineers and technicians trained in production grade additive manufacturing technology and ready to assume roles in industry."

Also part of the pact with TEC is the inclusion of Optomec's Aerosol Jet Systems technologies. Aerosol Jet Systems are used to directly print functional electronic circuitry and components onto 2D and 3D substrates. The process works without the need for masks, screens or plating. Through what Optomec calls their "aerodynamic focusing technique," a mist of metal nanoparticle inks and other electronic materials are incorporated into a tightly controlled beam to print features as small as 10 microns or as large as several millimeters in a single pass.

"TEC's longstanding philosophy has been to bring quality commercial and advanced technologies to the academic marketplace in order to enable institutions and their students to contribute to tomorrow's high manufacturing demands," said Richard Amarosa, President and Founder of TEC. "This technology is a 'must have' for institutions focused on creating a highly knowledgeable engineering workforce for the next industrial manufacturing revolution."

Have you heard the news? 3D Printer World Expo is coming to Seattle.