Home » $1M grant aims to make Ky a 3-D printing manufacturing hub

$1M grant aims to make Ky a 3-D printing manufacturing hub

KCTCS, partners win NSF grant to advance additive manufacturing skills
Northern kentucky-based Mazak, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of machine tools, has metal 3D printing technology among its line of CNC equipment.

VERSAILLES, Ky. — The National Science Foundation awarded Kentucky Community and Technical College System and partners a $1 million grant to advance “additive manufacturing” practices, also known as 3D printing, throughout Kentucky and surrounding regions.

The grant’s goal is to streamline and advance 3-D printing manufacturing technologies to reduce part lead times, material costs, energy usage and waste, while positioning Kentucky as an economic hub for additive manufacturing.

Planning and development through this award will include strengthening existing partnerships and establishing pathways for research and development, translation to practice, and workforce development with a goal of competing for an NSF Engine award of up to $160 million – the largest award ever offered by the NSF.

KCTCS’ role will focus on workforce development activities and more efficient bridging between the education infrastructure and the demands of the workforce.

Plans are to strengthen the current representation of additive manufacturing at a sample of community colleges and identify college champions.

“As the largest provider of skilled talent in the commonwealth, KCTCS is honored to accelerate our work in additive manufacturing technologies,” said KCTCS President Ryan Quarles. “As a core partner, our system has been at the cutting edge of emerging industry innovation by providing opportunities for students to explore additive manufacturing and build relevant skills.”

Jessie Schook, KCTCS vice president of workforce and economic development, added, “We will be laser-focused on collaborating with our partners to expand the pool of qualified individuals who can hit the ground running with companies embracing additive manufacturing technologies across the service region.”

KCTCS and the University of Louisville are the grant’s two funded partners, while the Kentucky Science & Technology Corp. (KSTC) is the lead partner for the award, which officially is known as NSF Engines Development award, Advancing Manufacturing and Building Construction Technologies (NSF AMT). Funding comes through the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.

“I was proud to help KSTC secure today’s federal award and to contact the NSF director in support of their application. KSTC plays an important role in bridging the gap between Kentucky’s business leaders and the science community, promoting the resilience of our supply chains and sharpening our competitive edge,” said U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. 

“By focusing on advancing sustainable additive manufacturing technologies, this project has the potential to support expansion and attract companies and additional high-wage, high-skilled jobs for our commonwealth,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

“These kinds of initiatives add to the remarkable strides being made by Kentucky’s entrepreneurs, companies and colleges and universities toward building our state’s future economy. Congratulations to the AMT team for securing this award and both demonstrating and improving Kentucky’s competitiveness and capacity for research and innovation,” added Beshear.

KSTC President and project lead Terry Samuel said, “We are eager to continue the work and build upon the partnerships we developed as part of our initial NSF Engines proposal through this award. It is a testament to the importance and potential of both our region and additive manufacturing technologies.”

Those interested in learning more about NSF AMT and 3D printing manufacturing can visit amt.kstc.org.

KCTCS 16 colleges and a system office created to serve all areas of the commonwealth. With an annual enrollment of over 100,000 students, KCTCS is Kentucky’s largest provider of workforce training and postsecondary education. KCTCS is united in its commitment to making life better for our students, communities and the citizens of Kentucky.