A strong need for additive manufacturing workforce demands in the Northwest Florida community exists. To help create more trained participants to the workforce, the UWF Innovation Institute launched the Sea3D Additive Manufacturing lab, located inside the UWF Historic Trust Museum of Commerce in Downtown Pensacola. Today, the lab is a regional hub for additive manufacturing invention, discovery and collaboration.
A strategic priority of the University is to launch the UWF Innovation Network in Downtown Pensacola. One of the areas of identified need is additive manufacturing. There are documented workforce demands across the region and a strong need to accelerate technological innovation across the industry as a whole. We worked closely with manufacturers across the region, faculty and others to brainstorm ways that research and application happening on campus could potentially connect and inspire the larger Northwest Florida community.
Working closely with University partners in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, art, and skylab, the Sea3D Lab opened in January 2018 as the first launch of the UWF Innovation Network. The additive manufacturing laboratory is located inside the UWF Historic Trust Museum of Commerce in Downtown Pensacola. The multidisciplinary approach and community collaboration enables a greater intersection with researchers, students and the community while creating a hub for multidisciplinary research, invention and discovery in the high-demand fields of additive manufacturing.
In the first year of operation, Sea3D welcomed more than 830 visitors. The lab received three external funding partners who provided substantial support in year one: FloridaMakes; the National Defense Industrial Association; and Lockheed Martin. The student technicians from disciplines as diverse as Science, Engineering and Art printed 3D parts for 13 organizations, including Actigraph, American Elite Molding, Blue Bay Medical, Cobalt, Custom Productions, Dalrymple Sallis Architecture, the Florida Public Archeology network, Guided Particle Systems, IHMC, Pensacola Bay Brewery, Quality Aluminum Boat Lifts, Stemwerx, and Xobotix. Ten principal investigators, including the director of Sea3D, used the lab for funded projects that utilize additive manufacturing or scanning technology. The researchers and scholars include Dallas Snider, Anil Raj, David Fries, Joe Piacenza, Susan Piacenza, Wade Jeffrey, Scott Keller, Elizabeth Benchley and Thomas Asmuth. The technical team averages one build request per day. One build request may have multiple components and duplicate parts which, require technical setup time and post processing. Combined, this activity makes Sea3D the regional hub for additive manufacturing know-how.