By: David Bull, Certified Business Advisor
As a business advisor at the New York Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College’s satellite office, located at the Syracuse Technology Garden in downtown Syracuse, I advise and counsel many advanced manufacturers throughout Central New York. I also work with many startup companies that desire to ultimately learn to manufacture their products themselves as they begin to grow their ideas into a real business and turn them from a dream into a reality. The goal of this article is to highlight a new and emerging technology — 3-D printing — that is impacting the manufacturing world, as well as to introduce some of the incredible resources that are available to existing manufacturers and manufacturing startups that are located within the Central New York region.
Since beginning at the SBDC two and a half years ago, I have been assigned to a grant-funded, multi-agency collaborative project called AM-TECS (Advanced Manufacturing in Thermal and Environmental Control Systems). The goal of the project has been to work collaboratively with several other local economic development agencies and institutions in order to assist a specific cluster of advanced manufacturers throughout Central New York that manufacture and supply products in the thermal and environmental controls areas. Loosely defined, a company falls within this “cluster” if it manufactures anything that has to do with:
- Heating or Cooling (items ranging from HVAC products to cryogenic freezers)
- Building Controls (items ranging from lighting to automated building control systems)
- Filtration (items ranging from water filtration to air filtration)
If your company or startup idea falls within any of these parameters, or is a supplier to these types of companies, you should contact the New York SBDC at Onondaga to schedule a time to meet with me as soon as possible. I would be happy to connect you to all of the many valuable resources associated with this project, all of which are subsidized by the grant to be either free or low-cost to you. Since this is the last year of the grant and the project is ending in a few months, you have to act now to benefit from it.
Assistance provided through this initiative includes:
- Innovation and commercialization acceleration
- Export acceleration
- Advanced manufacturing training opportunities
- Research and development collaborations with area universities and faculty
- Workforce development and training
- Entrepreneurial assistance and support
- Networking and mentorship opportunities
I also wanted to highlight an emerging technology, called 3-D printing (also commonly referred to as additive manufacturing), that is having a tremendous impact within today’s manufacturing world. For those unfamiliar, in layman’s terms, 3-D printing is basically a way of producing a three-dimensional object by using a special printer to lay down layer upon layer of a material. Objects can be “printed” out of just about any materials imaginable. To date, people have 3-D printed items ranging from auto parts to household components. There are techniques and machines that print out of plastic, metal or even food. In fact, there are already cases of people building entire working automobiles and entire houses out of 3-D printed parts. Believe it or not, NASA has funded a project that allows astronauts to produce their own 3-D printed pizzas while in space! It may sound like science fiction, but you can head over to places like the Fayetteville Free Library right here in Central New York and have free access to play with their 3-D printer. It is available for use by the general public.
In the manufacturing world, 3-D printing is allowing manufacturers to rapidly develop working prototypes in a matter of minutes or hours, instead of in the usual much longer periods of time needed to produce them “the old-fashioned way.” In essence, you can simply load a digital file and have the printer turn that file into a real object. As the technology continues to grow and develop it will continue to have a significant impacts on the ways that manufacturers do business in the future. Stay tuned!