News and Press Releases
09 October 2017
New CIMP-3D co-director Hickner to expand polymer and composites research

As new co-director of Penn State's Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D), Michael Hickner plans to use his background in polymer science and engineering to open new avenues of research.

Hickner, Corning Faculty Fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, sees polymers and polymer-based composites as a major growth area.

“Just look at the new commercial aircraft from Boeing and Airbus that are made from composites, not to mention military aircraft,” Hickner said. “Even automotive companies are moving towards replacing metal with composites. That is all technology from polymer science. We can fill an important niche at CIMP-3D by doing more research in polymers and composites that are ready for use in engineering applications. This will drive additive manufacturing technology forward as well as bring polymers to new applications in additive manufacturing.”

Hickner aims to build a new lab capable of fabricating use-ready polymeric parts for automotive, defense, manufacturing, chemical and other industries. He also wants to bring together a team of scientists and engineers to address fundamental polymer science questions in additive manufacturing and apply that knowledge to real-world applications.    

“Polymeric parts are everywhere and CIMP-3D has a role to play in pushing this new technology,” Hickner said. “In addition to our strengths in metals and ceramics, building polymers expertise will allow us to cover a tremendous range of applications. CIMP-3D is a leader in additive manufacturing and is already helping to remake the nation’s manufacturing industry. This new work in polymers just gives us another gear in an already stand-out enterprise.”

Hickner is an associate professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He also holds courtesy faculty appointments in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry and serves as the associate director of the Materials Research Institute.

Hickner’s interests include the formulation of advanced polymer systems, polymer synthesis and detailed molecular-based measurements of polymer properties, and he has recently worked in the development of improved polymers and polymeric-based composites for additive manufacturing. Prior to joining Penn State in 2007 he held a post-doctoral appointment and was promoted to the senior technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories.

His awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award, U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigator Award. He has been awarded eight patents and is a member of the American Chemical Society, Materials Research Society and Electrochemical Society.  His published research has been cited more than 14,000 times.

Hickner received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University, and a master's and doctorate in chemical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Hickner succeeds Gary Messing, distinguished professor of ceramic science and engineering. Messing served as co-director for CIMP-3D for nearly four years and was instrumental in helping establish CIMP-3D’s initial strategic plan.

For more information: www.psu.edu