UNC Charlotte will develop a Center for Additive Manufacture of Advanced Ceramics to address the expanding needs of advanced manufacturing in North Carolina with the support of a 2022-24 University of North Carolina Research Opportunity Initiative (ROI) grant. The award positions UNC Charlotte — and the UNC System — to become national leaders in the burgeoning field of additive manufacture of advanced ceramics, often referred to as 3-D printing, which makes possible the manufacture of advanced ceramic components for a number of industries at reduced cost and with increased design freedom.
The project, led by professors Brigid Mullany and Steve Schmid from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, is one of three research-based efforts at UNC System universities to receive UNC ROI funding for this year. It will bring together researchers from UNC Charlotte and North Carolina State University to focus on applying technology that is revolutionizing modern production for products that are central to energy and national defense needs.
“With UNC ROI support, UNC Charlotte and our partners at NC State will engage with industry, national laboratories and federal agencies to create a community focused on the identification of solutions for current bottlenecks in the ceramics additive manufacturing process chain,” said Mullany. “The new Center for Additive Manufacture of Advanced Ceramics will leverage existing manufacturing and metrology expertise within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science as it builds new capabilities at UNC Charlotte.”
UNC ROI grants, which this year exceed $3.5 million, are funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to promote innovation and collaboration for research within the UNC System that is considered “potentially game changing.” UNC Charlotte’s ROI grant is for $1.25 million. In addition to advanced manufacturing, priority research areas for the UNC ROI program include pharmacoengineering, energy, data science, marine sciences, and military and security-related issues. Grants support projects with the intent of enhancing their national or international profile and providing a competitive edge in pursuit of large-scale research funding.
“Advanced manufacturing — a priority research area for the UNC ROI program and a long-standing area of research excellence for UNC Charlotte — is a principal driver of our region’s economy,” said Rick Tankersley, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The UNC ROI grant will make possible ongoing research and timely scholarship that will inform the production of critical industrial and defense products, as these and other essential segments of North Carolina’s economic engine rely increasingly on advanced research to be competitive on a global scale.”
Also funded for 2022-24 are Enhancing Sustainable Water Treatment while Adding Value to Aquatic Systems ($1.2 million) led by East Carolina University in partnership with North Carolina State University; and the App State Multipurpose Apiary Informatics System (AppMAIS) ($1.1 million), for which UNC Charlotte is a partner.