NASCAR Experience Driving Advanced Manufacturing Ambitions at KAM
With hybrid technologies and NASCAR roots, KAM is set to race forward in advanced manufacturing.
Unveiled today at a public press conference in Statesville, North Carolina, the 70,000-square-foot facility housing Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM) is building upon founder and namesake Brad Keselowski’s personal and family legacy in manufacturing and in the racing world.
Race cars have long employed additive manufacturing; if you haven’t heard much about it, that’s intentional. Racing is, obviously, an incredibly competitive sport, and any competitive advantage to shave milliseconds off a lap with a more aerodynamic, lighter car with customized gear is going to be pretty hush-hush. Even when we know there’s 3D printing involved, those behind it can’t say much. Team Penske is among those in the NASCAR world putting the technology to significant use — and Team Penske driver Keselowski has become a major believer in the strength of additive manufacturing.
And of course it’s not only about additive manufacturing. 3D printing is a tool in the toolbox, and generally works best alongside complementary subtractive technologies. It’s this leveraging of hybrid capabilities that makes advanced manufacturing so powerful — and so appealing to Keselowski.
KAM is already working with customers now, having begun operations last year. Today’s festivities are putting a public face on the company and names to some of its high-profile technology partners — among them ALSCO, BIG KAISER, GE Additive, Mazak, and Pinnacle X-Ray Solutions.
“It’s an exciting time to be in additive and to see Brad and his team at the forefront of our rapidly evolving industry,” said GE Additive President and CEO Jason Oliver. “We’re honored to be part of KAM’s additive journey and the potential our work together could have in the motorsports and automotive space and across other sectors.”
Internally, operations are supported by a team of 30 — expected to grow to 100 by the end of 2019 — engineers and technicians working closely with these partners. Kesalowski is also exuberant about the company’s general manager, Steve Fetch, who brings 3D printing experience to the table following tenure at 3D Systems.
“Steve Fetch runs our day-to-day operations. He ran quality at his previous job, and I recruited him because I wanted the person who runs the company to be committed to quality above everything else,” Kesalowski told Inc. of KAM’s functionality. “Quality comes first—everything else follows from that.”
KAM leverages a specific strategy based on four pillars, which the company describes as:
• Speed: To take products to market faster than the competition
• Quality: For defect-free products that will meet or exceed the demands of the customers
• Engineering: Helping customers develop innovative solutions
• Hybrid Manufacturing: Leveraging multiple disciplines and procedures
KAM is looking “to scale up hybrid manufacturing capabilities at a production level.” As 3D printing and advanced manufacturing continue to come together, scalable production solutions are in sight.
“Until now, much of this advanced manufacturing technology was considered too complex and too expensive for production level applications. By combining additive manufacturing with subtractive capabilities, the goal of KAM is to lead the way for the next industrial revolution by making these technologies more accessible,” Keselowski said.
3D printing is part of the additive manufacturing workflow which, in turn, lands squarely in advanced manufacturing operations. Working alongside traditional machinery — KAM partners’ technologies available encompass CNC machining, detailed imaging, and more — is important for an efficient and high-quality manufacturing ecosystem bringing additive into operations. The best tool for each job, and the expertise to know the difference and produce good results, will see advanced manufacturing solutions continue to progress. Even race forward.