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RCBI showcases the latest manufacturing technology

Oct. 06, 2012 @ 01:07 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing offered tours Friday in recognition of National Manufacturing Day. The event was designed to raise the general public's awareness about the importance of the industry and manufacturing careers.

RCBI provides training in various types of manufacturing, including cutting-edge additive manufacturing, along with providing large and small businesses a chance to lease RCBI equipment to produce parts, models and more.

"By having this available to them to build (these parts), it makes them more competitive with larger companies," said Ed Black, associate manager and machinist instructor of the Machinist Technology Program at RCBI.

Star Technologies in Huntington has utilized equipment at RCBI to make parts before getting its own, according to Jim Casto, associate director of public information for RCBI. RCBI provided them an opportunity to get experience with the device first, he said.

In West Virginia, there are approximately 1,400 manufacturers who employ nearly 50,000 workers and produce total annual output of $6 billion, according to Casto.

During a tour, Black pointed out a number of machines which either cut out parts, bend them or build them using the new "additive manufacturing" process, which is the process of adding layers of powder or another material together to create something, rather than cutting excess away. With the equipment at RCBI, manufacturers who have come up with an idea for a part can input the design into a computer and see it built within an afternoon rather than going through the process of hiring an engineer and so on, Black said.

Much of today's manufacturing technology involves inputting line-by-line coding into computers, and RCBI has training rooms to teach the process. One room allows for distance learning so, for example, students at RCBI's Huntington and Bridgeport facilities can get the same training at the same time.

The tour was an enlightening experience, said Rita Frisbie, a community employment specialist with Goodwill Industries of the KYOWVA Area Inc.

"Some (job-seekers) who come in want to get into something that is hands-on," she said. "It's nice to know that this is here and there's a need for it. To know that (rare parts can be created and made here) is pretty cool."

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