For Success,“Future of Manufacturing” includes Understanding 3D Printing

CIRAS has been actively exploring the world of metal additive manufacturing for more than a year, logging more than 3,000 hours in 2016 on experiments and a dozen company-related projects. The project list includes helping American Athletic Inc., a Jefferson, Iowa-based sports equipment manufacturing, develop tooling for a new product aimed at helping cheerleaders improve their balance.

“We’re still using it,” Iowa State University head cheerleading coach Kelli Baker said of the new EliteTM Cheer Stand. “I don’t think I gave them very much feedback other than that the kids liked it.”

American Athletic made its EliteTM Cheer Stand from plastic parts produced by Ottumwa-based Angstrom Precision Molding out of molds built by CIRAS’ metal 3D printer. The CIRAS printer uses powdered metal and a laser to build complicated projects one 40-micron-thick layer at a time.

CIRAS is doing these types of projects as part of an effort to show Iowa companies how additive manufacturing (the technical term for 3D printing) can be used to rewrite design limitations and open up new possibilities for their businesses.

“It’s early,” said Jim Johnson, chief operating officer at Angstrom. “This is the first mold like this we’ve completed. We’ll know more from design to design and part to part than we do now. But it looks very promising.”

Senad Salkic, senior design engineer at American Athletic, said CIRAS “helped us have a clear vision of the product and made the whole process very smooth.”


For more information about the June 8 event regarding the impact of 3D Printing, click here. For more information about additive manufacturing in general, contact Chris Hill at or 515-313-8271.