Jason Killgore brings 20+ years experience to the chemical and materials science industry. Along with his role at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as project leader and materials research engineer, Jason helped co-found and is an integral part of the mission and growth of PAMA, The Photopolymer Additive Manufacturing Alliance, a collaboration between NIST and RadTech.
PAMA is on a mission to make photopolymer additive manufacturing (PAM) more accessible and to increase the safe and responsible adoption of these technologies. This Alliance is comprised of industry, academic, governmental, and NGO organizations with the goal of bringing commonly accepted standards and practices to the field of PAM. As a company focused on serving the unique needs of the materials sciences industry, striving to further its innovation capabilities and accelerate product development, Albert proudly supports this mission. To this end, we seek to actively highlight the conversations and deliberations that will shape the future of the industry.
We invite you to learn about PAMA and its objectives in this quick, yet informative interview with Jason Killgore, as he shares insights with Albert on the value PAMA brings to the industry and its members, as well as how you and your organization can become part of this collaborative community.
Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to talk with Albert! Can you share a bit about your background and what led up to the founding of PAMA? And where PAMA is today?
Absolutely! Starting with NIST, I would trace it back to my work as a PhD student at the University of Washington when I came across a paper written by NIST authors, and I was intrigued. I wound up pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at NIST shortly before NIST began seeking congressional funding for additive manufacturing. We believed then, and still believe, building out measurements and standards infrastructure is key to supporting American Manufacturing.
Around 2018, my colleague, Callie Higgins, met Gary Cohen, the Executive Director of RadTech, which is the Association for UV&EB Technology. Realizing that we had mutual goals, we started laying the groundwork for what would become PAMA as a joint project, working hand-in-hand to create a first-of-its-kind workshop that would bring a broad range of stakeholders together for candid conversations about the state of industry. The first Photopolymer Additive Manufacturing Workshop occurred in October 2019 with everyone from printer equipment manufacturers, resin formulators, and end-users, like big organizations from the automotive world, as well as relevant government agencies, including the FDA, Consumer Protection, and Defense. Together, we identified common goals. The feedback was quite positive, and we collectively agreed that the best way forward was to work together to address common challenges from a pre-competitive standpoint. And now we have PAMA.
From our early ambitions and roots to launching PAMA right before COVID kicked in, (which could have easily curtailed such a collaborative project) I’m proud to share that today we have approximately 50 member organizations representing a true cross-section of industries, from university partners, formulators, OEMs, and more. Each member has a voice in the room, the veritable seat at the table. But we also have several organizations that participate in activities without becoming formal members.
How does PAMA help support conversations and collaboration amongst its stakeholders and the industry?
PAMA has five working committees: Materials Characterization; Hardware Characterization; Environmental, Health and Safety; Government Partnerships and Regulation; and Market Research. These committees help determine vision, priorities, and funding for future projects.
Our second PAMA Workshop, which will be September 18-19 is an important event for our organization. Here, we will set the next road mapping priorities for the industry. We will turn the Workshop discussions into reports that will highlight findings and recommendations that can be shared with all of our members and the larger community. This workshop is a precursor to the Photopolymerization Fundamentals Conference, which opens its general sessions on September 19. The conference has taken place every other year for 2 decades and brings together leaders across the broader photocurables sector to present research and discuss the achievements and advances that will assist in product development.
PAMA is also working on an interlaboratory project for working curve measurement. We have engaged participants to come together as a community to measure the same properties for the creation of a de facto standard. This is impossible without consortia, and it will ultimately benefit everyone.
Additionally, we continue to educate and guide members about all that’s happening on the global scale, whether it has to do with safety and regulations or cutting-edge techniques and best practices. And we are working with our committees on sustainability issues, taking a big picture view of how photopolymers fit and where we can make a positive contribution, such as requiring less material than other alternatives or serving as an energy efficient option. We’re talking about how to engineer sustainability into PAM and discover ways to make sustainability a part of the industry.
As an Alliance, we are really just getting started, and are already having an impact. The possibilities for the future are profound.
Based on the conversations taking place at PAMA-sponsored meetings, and the work on the committees, can you share what you view are some of the opportunities and challenges the industry faces?
At the industry level, we see higher value applications becoming more prevalent. For example, we’re not looking to replace commodity injection moldings but rather are leaning in to add more value.
Essentially, we are focused on closing gaps and opening up applications, creating unique customizations and high-performance applications, whether it’s in dentistry, prosthetics, human tissue, material science or something else. We believe PAMA can shape that direction and play a big role in that future by identifying opportunities and fostering emerging trends.
Regarding challenges (which we view as opportunities to address), PAMA has been playing a critical role. We are focused on supporting more innovative and better outcomes. For example, the printing side has been poorly studied and the post-print side still requires manual intervention. There is increased regulatory scrutiny as well, which requires community education and guidance, as well as, data challenges as we measure and automate more.
One thing I know for sure, data is a critical and important component of bringing our industry forward. Organizations must embrace and better leverage data. Tools are far more advanced (Albert is a great example), and by extracting and applying data, we can learn more, faster. Doing so not only helps achieve product gains and organizational goals. From a big picture standpoint, data enables us to address challenges and support the broader vision and potential of our industry. Expanding on this point, the immense amount of digital control and ability to produce data in manufacturing is really unprecedented today. For example, a single build can control trillions of interactions. We’ve got to get over any resistance to take full advantage of such capabilities. And higher value applications need to be seen as viable manufacturing tools that can lower costs and achieve economies of scale. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.
For those looking for additional guidance, any particular organizations or resources you recommend?
There are several out there. On our website, for example, we post numerous safety flyers that our members find to be useful. The latest is updated guidance for the Proper Handling of UV Curable 3D Printing Resins. Our working groups also share what active academic research groups are publishing in an effort to share what’s happening at the forefront of the industry.
NIST also has the Additive Manufacturing Benchmark Test Series competition. This is a continuing series of highly controlled benchmark tests for all types of additive manufacturing, with modeling challenge problems.
Two other sites that are really great for people hoping to learn more are American Makes and Biofab USA. Additionally, for students interested in pursuing a career in the industry, NIST offers internships and fellowships, starting in high school with the Summer Intern Program, running through college with the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and on through graduate and postdoctoral work, which certainly opened the door for me.
Thank you, Jason. We really appreciate all of your helpful insights and your contributions to PAMA and NIST. The Albert team fully supports this important collaboration and is looking forward to participating in the Photopolymerization Fundamentals Conference in September. We invite organizations to learn more by going to https://pama3d.org/