Pittsburgh Airport Plans 3D Printing Cluster

New Innovation Campus will include a 30-acre additive manufacturing center.

New Innovation Campus will include a 30-acre additive manufacturing center.

Local officials break ground on the new Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus. Image courtesy of PAIC.

The Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus (PAIC), a major development project aimed at generating new economic activity around the city and its airport, will feature a 30-acre additive manufacturing (AM) “neighborhood” that brings together materials suppliers, 3D printing providers and manufacturers.

The 3D printing cluster and the PAIC are launching as the Allegheny County Airport Authority begins work on its Terminal Modernization Program. The 3D printing neighborhood (Neighborhood 91) was officially announced on October 25, although some details were presented at the America Makes Members Meeting & Exchange (MMX) event.

“This will be Pittsburgh’s 91st neighborhood,” says David Storer, manager of Real Estate Development at the Allegheny County Airport Authority. “It will condense and connect all the components of the 3D printing supply chain into one powerful production ecosystem.”

Ready Access to Resources

The Innovation Campus is a 195-acre area that will include office and industrial spaces, as well as an entertainment district. It will also operate as a foreign trade zone.

Key to the additive manufacturing cluster will be the anchor tenant, Arencibia, which will provide Argon and other noble gases. Storer says that Arencibia will provide Argon gas to the entire complex, as well as recycle as much as 95% of the gas.

“It’s a tremendous value-add to have that recycling system in place,” Storer says. “That will attract powder producers, printer companies and post-processing companies.”

AM tenants will also have ready access to the airport, including Qatar Airways’ worldwide cargo service. Storer says there are also plans to have a common storage area for combustible powders that tenants can access.

The campus is also in close proximity to the University of Pittsburgh, which has a workforce development program related to AM; Robert Morris University, which also offers engineering programs in AM; and Carnegie Mellon University.

“Workforce development is a key component of this,” Storer says. “Additive manufacturing is still in its infancy, and it is advancing faster than the workforce. We have a great university system here in Pennsylvania, and the schools want to get on board and train this ‘new collar’ workforce.”

In addition, both America Makes and ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) are less than an hour’s drive from the campus. America Makes supports the project, and is promoting the project within its membership.

Land development on the initial 30-acre site will continue throughout 2020 and 2021. The Airport Authority is currently going through the RFP process to select a master developer, and should have a contract in place by the end of the year. The Arencibia facility should be up and running within the first year.

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Brian Albright

Brian Albright is the editorial director of Digital Engineering. Contact him at de-editors@digitaleng.news.

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