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Pitt to partner with Hempfield's General Carbide in metals research

Deb Erdley
| Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, 2:48 p.m.
Brian Linderman (left), and Mona Pappafava-Ray, owner of General Carbide in Hempfield Township, talk to U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and Congressman-elect Guy Reschenthaler, during a tour of her factory, on Monday, on Dec. 10, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Brian Linderman (left), and Mona Pappafava-Ray, owner of General Carbide in Hempfield Township, talk to U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and Congressman-elect Guy Reschenthaler, during a tour of her factory, on Monday, on Dec. 10, 2018.

A family-owned precision tooling company in Hempfield topped off a record 50th anniversary by announcing a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

The project will explore possible uses for tungsten carbide powders in 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing.

General Carbide performs precision tungsten carbide tooling for the oil, gas and automotive industries as well as petrochemical manufacturing and pulp and paper production. The company will partner with Pitt assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science Markus Chmielus, the lead investigator on the project, and a pair of student fellows.

Their goal is to identify processes to employ tungsten carbide in additive manufacturing. Although the metal is known for its strength and durability, the heating and cooling processes used in most additive manufacturing can create fractures.

The research is seen as key to meeting future manufacturing needs. It was financed in part by a $57,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the PA Innovative Manufacturing Program. Pitt and General Carbide will underwrite the remaining costs of the $145,000 research project.

“This research will enable General Carbide to expand our portfolio with more complex and versatile parts at a lower cost by partnering with the Swanson School and leveraging its expertise in binder jet 3D printing and additive manufacturing process optimization,” said Drew Elhassid, chief metallurgist and manager of lab, pressing and powder production at General Carbide.

General Carbide is a second-generation company that employs 256 machinists, engineers and associated staff at its plant in the Carbon neighborhood of Hempfield.

This month, company President and CEO Mona Pappafava-Ray announced a $14 million expansion and said the company will add 100 jobs.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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