A family-owned precision tooling company in Hempfield is topping off a record 50th anniversary year that saw the launch of a $14 million expansion project with an announcement: a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.
The project will explore possible uses for tungsten carbide powders in additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing.
General Carbide, which performs precision tungsten carbide tooling for the oil, gas and automotive industries, as well as petrochemical manufacturing and pulp and paper production, will partner with Pitt assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science Markus Camillus, the lead investigator on the project, and a pair of student fellows.
Their goal is to identify processes to employ tungsten carbide in additive manufacturing. Although the metal is known for its strength and durability, the heating and cooling processes used in most additive manufacturing can create fractures that lead to breaking.
The research, seen as key to meeting future manufacturing needs, was financed in part by a $57,529 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the first round of the PA Innovative Manufacturing Program. Pitt and General Carbide will underwrite the remainder of the $145,000 research project.
“This research will enable General Carbide to expand our portfolio with more complex and versatile parts at a lower cost by partnering with the Swanson School and leveraging its expertise in binder jet 3D printing and additive manufacturing process optimization,” said Drew Elhassid, Chief Metallurgist and Manager of Lab, Pressing and Powder Production at General Carbide.
General Carbide is a second generation, family-owned company employs 256 machinists, engineers and associated staff at its plant in the Carbon neighborhood of Hempfield.
Earlier this month, company President and CEO Mona Pappafava-Ray announced a $14 million expansion . She said the project will add 100 new jobs at the plant her father, the late Premo Pappafava, launched 50 years ago.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.