Mon., 8:30am: NAMII awardee finds 3D printing success

COLUMBIANA- Approaching its first year into additive manufacturing, Humtown Products has taken hold of the quick-changing, state-of-the-art 3D printing technology and is applying it to casting cores, molds and anything else.

The company “continues to help pioneer this new age in the metal casting industry,” its website says. Tool designer Bronson Lamoncha, said, “We really hit the additive manufacturing process from every angle we can … plastics, metals, sand and eventually ceramics.”

A grandson of the company founder, Bronson, and his older brother Brandon, look at additive manufacturing and realized they were staring innovation in the face. They committed to it.

Today, Humtown is one of the pioneers in additive manufacturing and one of 15 awardees by America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown, that was given a call out by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address.

Barb Ewing, the chief operating officer of the Youngstown Business Incubator, said, “Additive manufacturing is potentially a game changing technology for the industry.”

Brandon, the sales manager and solution provider for Humtown, said, “It’s a real game changer.” Added Bronson, “It’s proven and working.”

With a reputation for superb craftsmanship, Humtown Products was founded in 1959 as a pattern shop and the family-owned business serves the foundry industry with the kind of attention to detail that makes high-quality products its signature.

The name “additive” manufacturing can throw some people into thinking of additive in the sense of oil.

That’s not it.

Instead of milling material away from a piece to form a core, it is built up in a process similar running a large inkjet nozzle repeatedly across set perimeters and adding on to it one layer at a time – expect you’re not using ink but plastic or urethane.

Instead of whittling down, you’re building up, Bronson said, explaining that in the world of manufacturing the common practice has been to subtract material by milling, turning it on a lathe and grinding.

“You’re not taking something large and cutting it down, you’re adding to it,” Brandon said. “You have to understand why the technology exists. You’re not really making a big cost savings on small parts but when dealing with large, precious, expensive metals (stainless steel, brass, bronze or titanium) that’s when you see a savings. It doesn’t have to be metal, it can be plastic or sand.

“What you want to do it take the thought of something big and whittling it down and reversing it. You only want to use the material you need.”

Using computer assisted design (CAD), Bronson explained, they are basically taking a 16-week lead time to get tooling made. “Just the tooling,” he emphasized, and taking it down to two weeks.

Brandon said, “We make the molds and cores using this printed process. It’s three to four times faster at a minimum.”

“We’re able to making castings cheaper than tooling,” Bronson said.

Plans for the next big upgrade include a $1.2 million machine for bigger jobs so Humtown doesn’t have to have parts printed at the University of North Iowa.

“They have a machine to do that,” Bronson said. “The idea is to get a machine here.”

Brandon noted, “This technology is new and proven.”

Bronson added, “We have reverse engineered cores. We like to tie it into our existing technology. It pretty much has applications to any product. We wanted to get in at the beginning and with design work for low volume. We’re talking high technology and by printing you’re eliminating secondary operations like grinding off excess material.”

Also, in complex core assemblies gluing multiple pieces together can be eliminated. One turbo-charger job printed out a pieces core in one printing “eliminating gluing it together.”

There are tie-ins to the oil and gas industry. Humtown has made products for Caterpillar and is currently quoting a price for four-cylinder pump for an oil rig.

“If a driller or anyone in the oil and gas industry needs a casting or rapid replacement we have the capability to reverse engineer it and build a mold and even machine it,” Brandon said. “And have it in weeks not months.”

Fast, emergency service, he said, adding, “If they have new products, prototypes, etc. … if they have new concepts, drawings or even just a sketch … we can use it.”

Humtown Products and the Youngstown Business Incubator is one of the partners with the American Foundry Society, ExOne, Janney Capital Market, the University of Northern Iowa and Youngstown State University was part of the 15 awarded Research Projects.

Humtown Products began serving the core making needs of foundries throughout the midwest. Today its products contribute to the manufacture of parts and equipment used in a diverse array of industries, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, mining, national defense, public utilities and transportation.