Principal investigator: Davide Piovesan

University: Gannon University

Industry partners: MP-Erie-Co.

Gannon University and MP-Erie-Co. will partner to conduct research using a technology to fabricate tools and dies for small batch-size manufacturing with costs that are less than the current market price. The proposed technology could increase the global access of manufacturing to small businesses by increasing the efficiency of small batch size production. This application specifically focuses on the manufacturing of molds for plastic injection. MP-Erie is a registered PA company founded in Erie, PA in 2018. As an engineering consulting and manufacturing firm focused on advanced manufacturing processes, its mission is to bridge the gap between small businesses and the marketplace by providing an alternative route to manufacturing. MP-Erie-Co uses additive manufacturing and post-processing methods to produce complex parts made of composite materials. Gannon will hire students majoring in biomedical, industrial, and systems engineering, as well as mechanical engineering. Research activities will go hand-in-hand with didactic activities such as senior design projects and master’s theses. We aim to provide a process that uses additive manufacturing as the base to create molds made of composite materials that can have properties comparable to traditional metal molds, but can be produced inexpensively and with a very low turnaround time. This solves two main problems:

  • it prototypes molds and assesses the feasibility of the molding process for larger scale productions
  • it allows small business to use molding for a mid-size production, thus avoiding the paradigm “unique pieces or millions of pieces”

We envision that our method will be able to better adapt to the need of the costumer, taking into consideration the best paring of mold material with artifact material, reducing the wear of the molds, and increasing the surface finish of the artifacts.