The University of Connecticut and Pratt & Whitney have opened a new Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at UConn. The center, which is the first additive manufacturing facility in the Northeast to work with metals instead of plastics, will be used to further additive manufacturing research and development, and train a new generation of engineers and designers in the latest advancements in manufacturing technology, reports UConn Today.

Located on UConn’s Depot Campus in Storrs, Conn., the center features the latest in 3D manufacturing equipment and rapid prototyping technologies including two Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) A2X model machines for the manufacturing of large, complex metal parts at high temperatures. The A2X models – the first to be deployed in North America – use high-powered electron beams to melt fine grains of powdered metals (a titanium or other pure alloy “sand”) in layers to create a fully developed metal part strong enough to be used in jet engines and in any number of other applications.

Speaking at an event celebrating the center’s opening, UConn Provost Mun Choi said the new facility will play a central role in the university’s new Technology Park scheduled to open in 2015 in Storrs, Conn. Indeed, the University is developing an innovative curriculum and degree concentrations related to additive manufacturing, and also will host workshops and training sessions for students and engineers interested in the latest technology.

Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., has invested more than $4.5 million in the lab and plans to spend another $3.5 million over the next five years.

In related news, a few months ago NASA announced that it will use selective laser melting (SLM) to create cheaper and stronger parts for its new Space Launch System in 2017. Indeed, as ExtremeTech put it, 3D printing with metal could be the final frontier of additive manufacturing.