The University of Texas at El Paso opened a new 3D Engineering and Additive Manfacturing Technology Center at 410 S. Cotton St. in central El Paso. The facility is 17,000 square feet and is intended to bring economic growth to the area and be at the center of creating jobs of the future.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the industry term for 3D printing, which is the process of building three dimensional objects one layer at a time with varied materials. The application of this technology is vast and crosses into multiple industries.
“The Cotton Facility serves several key purposes,” said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., director of UTEP’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation and Mr. and Mrs. MacIntosh Murchison Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “These include increasing the amount of research space available to the University; providing space for education and training for K-Ph.D., industry, military and veterans; extending UTEP’s reach in the community by increasing STEM outreach opportunities; and providing entrepreneurship and business creation opportunities in additive manufacturing.”
The new building provides the opportunity for AM training in El Paso and is intended to create jobs of the future. Though 3D printing is still in the initial stages of development, the creation of this new facility allows UTEP and El Paso to be at the forefront of AM innovation.
UTEP’s Department of Engineering has created a graduate certification in 3D engineering and Additive Manufacturing to supplement a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. The certification can also be used as a stand-alone certification for engineering professionals.
AM is being perused by the pharmaceutical industry for the purpose of 3D printing food and drugs. UTEP’s School of Pharmacy worked with the College of Engineering using AM to discover the potential of 3D printing tailor-made drugs for specific patients.
“Industry is using these machines to print jet engine components and medical implants and virtually everything in between,” according to the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation’s website.
UTEP has been using AM technology since its inception in the early 2000 and developed The Keck Center for this purpose.
The Keck Center is a multidisciplinary research facility that focuses on innovation and developing AM technologies. Their facilities are in the engineering building in room 108 on UTEP’s main campus. They occupy a 13,000 square foot office with $8 million in research infrastructure.