Sooner Advanced Manufacturing Lab Grand Opening

  • Published
  • By Carter Denton
  • Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex

The University of Oklahoma officially opened the Sooner Advanced Manufacturing Lab during a grand opening event attended by government, military and defense industry leaders held Nov. 28.

This facility represents a significant advancement in the partnership between the Oklahoma Aerospace Defense Innovation Initiative, through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex on Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

“This partnership allows us to utilize their research in advance manufacturing for our production advantage to really bring in the next wave of technically proficient workforce focused on manufacturing,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Moore, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander.

The OC-ALC is the largest Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility in the Department of Defense. Applied research from the Sooner lab will support advancements of the OC-ALC’s capability to produce flight-worthy metal additively manufactured parts.

“This directly supports our ‘24 in 24’ campaign where we are working with engineers across [Air Force Materiel Command] with the goal of flying 24 metal parts in 2024,” Moore said.

To aid in the education of aerospace students using cutting-edge technology, the OC-ALC funded, through a competitive contract for applied research, a GE M2 Series 5 Metal 3D printer for the lab capable of printing titanium alloys.

“We have been innovators in the advance manufacturing space and OU wants to support that,” said Eric Bartlow, the OC-ALC technical director. “They are standing up this facility to come alongside us in an academic way.”

Along with the benefits of university research, this partnership exposes students to the possibility of a career with the OC-ALC, which is the largest single-site employer in the state of Oklahoma. Planned future expansion of the lab’s capabilities includes support for producing aircraft propulsion parts, as well as expanded applied research, training, and workforce development to support military and industrial aerospace partners.