AUBURN, AL – NOVEMBER 20, 2016: Tony Overfelt (center) examines an antique cathode ray tubes from a television set for use in an additive manufacturing experiment. In 2016, Auburn University received a grant to develop low cost additive manufacturing techniques, which would allow small businesses interested in additive manufacturing to cheaply test the method’s viability for their unique production needs. By repurposing the infrastructure inside cathode ray tubes, the existing electron gun inside the tubes is harnessed for additive manufacturing. “All the infrastructure used in the million dollar machines is right here in these tubes,” Prorok said. “It's more crude, and tuned to a different application, but it’s there. We're trying to harness them to do something new.” Prorok believes the method has potential to become the new paradigm for how newer additive manufacturing machines are built.
In much of the United States, global trade and technological innovation has failed to produce the prosperity hoped for by political and business leaders. Yet despite formidable economic challenges, some localities are flourishing. In Lee County, Ala., unemployment is below the national average despite the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs, and the key to the county’s resilience may be Auburn University, which provided a steady source of employment during recessions and helped draw new businesses to replace those that fled. CREDIT: Bob Miller for The Wall Street Journal