From its earliest days, Lehigh has been invested in materials. Mining and metallurgy was one of the university's first academic programs in 1865. It makes sense, then, in an age marked by rapid technological advancements, that Lehigh would turn to materials—in this case, the metals used in additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.

As many universities and research centers explore the applications of 3-D printing, Lehigh is "one of a very small handful of places that has made materials really the focus," says Richard Vinci.

Vinci, professor of materials science and engineering, is director of Lehigh's Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (CAMN), which fosters fundamental and applied research focused on the development and characterization of materials and processes.

"The center is an interdisciplinary group of researchers from multiple colleges," says Vinci. "[And additive manufacturing] is the kind of technology that benefits from and meets the needs of a diverse set of scholars. It is an area that I think is ripe for an injection of really good materials research."

Last year, Lehigh acquired a Renishaw industrial platform 3-D metal printer, one of only a few 400-watt laser systems Renishaw has installed in the United States. A unique educational partnership with Renishaw allows Lehigh to change the machine's processing parameters as needed for research. Brian Slocum, director of Lehigh's Additive Manufacturing Lab, traveled to England to learn from Renishaw's research and development staff.

"The underlying science of that is very similar in many respects to things that have been studied here at Lehigh for decades," says Vinci.

Read the full story in the 2017 Vol. 2 edition of the Lehigh Research Review.

-Kelly Hochbein is Editor of the Lehigh Research Review and an Assistant Editor with Lehigh University's Office of Communications and Public Affairs.