THU AM News: UW-Madison engineers develop system for scanning 3D printed metal parts; Marquette poll finds voters concerned about inflation

— UW-Madison engineers have developed a new system for scanning metal parts manufactured with a critical 3D printing technique that could benefit the aerospace industry.

Lianyi Chen, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the university, says the field of electron beam powder bed fusion is growing quickly. 

“It’s an important technology to make parts for aerospace — for example, for jet engines, with titanium aluminide,” he said in a release. “We can’t make these with any other 3D-printing technology.”

He and a team of engineers created the system for scanning parts made with this method. It’s meant to better understand the internal structure of these parts, as well as imperfections, in order to “design better technology to move the process to a much higher level,” Chen said. 

The technique involves melting and fusing layers of metal powder that form the manufactured part from the bottom up. The release shows this process is “new enough to be less than well understood,” and tiny defects within the structure can lead to product failures down the line. 

By combining an array of imaging methods into a single system, Chen and his team have created a way to look inside these metal parts to find defects. 

“It is the first time we have the ability to see what happens beneath the surface — what are the defect formation mechanisms,” Chen said. 

Their system includes X-ray imaging, thermal imaging and a standard visible light camera –  all of which are used to scan the product as it’s being created. It was finished in January and tested using the Argonne (Ill.) National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source, which produces “ultra-bright, high-energy X-rays” for scientific uses.

Luis Izet Escano, a mechanical engineering graduate student who led the development process under Chen, said integrating these technologies was “a great challenge” and required various engineering specialities. 

“Now, the flexibility of our machine allows us to run experiments and collect data quite fast — and this will accelerate our research toward the fundamental understanding and perfection of this printing technology,” Escano said. 

— The latest Marquette Law School Poll finds 69 percent of surveyed voters are very concerned about inflation, while 23 percent are somewhat concerned. 

The poll of 805 registered voters via landline and cellphone was conducted April 19-24.

It found 50 percent of voters are very concerned about the state of public education and 37 percent are somewhat concerned. At the same time, concern about the pandemic has “fallen to a new low,” a release from Marquette University shows. 

Just 22 percent of surveyed voters said they’re very concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, while 30 percent are somewhat concerned. Another 21 percent said they’re not too concerned, and 26 percent said they’re not concerned at all. 

Meanwhile, the percentage of voters saying the state is “on the wrong track” has been increasing over the past three surveys while a smaller percentage say the state’s heading in the right direction. In the latest poll, 36 percent of respondents said the state is headed in the right direction, 56 percent said it’s on the wrong track. In the previous February poll, the split was 39-53. 

See the full survey results here:

Watch the presentation: 

— A new report from the UW Population Health Institute ranks Ozaukee County as the healthiest county in the state, while Menominee County is the least healthy. 

The ranking includes measures of health outcomes, such as length of life and quality of life, as well as health factors, covering things like health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and the physical environment. 

While the report looks at direct health factors such as drug and alcohol use, diet and exercise, and quality of care options, it also incorporates social determinants of health such as education, employment and income. 

The report’s authors note economic security is “key to thriving communities,” as it enables residents to meet their basic needs such as housing, food, housing and medical care. 

“When a single household expense consumes the majority of a paycheck, it becomes difficult to meet competing needs and can force households into tough decisions like choosing between quality childcare, paying rent, and purchasing nutritious food,” report authors wrote. 

As one example, the report shows the cost burden of child care ranges from 12 percent of household income in Juneau County to 46 percent in Milwaukee County.

It also compares statewide measures of health with national figures, showing Wisconsin fares better than the country overall in the percentage of adults reporting fair or poor health, healthy food environments, certain health screenings, health insurance coverage and others. 

But the state has higher rates of obesity than the nation, as well as higher rates of binge- or heavy drinking, driving deaths related to alcohol, and injury-related deaths. 

See the state report: 

See the full report: 

— The “stealth omicron” subvariant of COVID-19 is driving infections up as vaccine protections wane and groups gather more frequently during the spring.

Department of Health Services Chief Medical Officer Ryan Westergaard during a virtual press conference said Wisconsin is seeing mild to moderate increases in coronavirus cases. 

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has risen 1,159 cases per day — the highest it’s been since late February, the DHS site shows. 

Westergaard said the risk of infection is not as high as it was in January, but it’s higher than several weeks back. The BA.2 “stealth omicron” subvariant is partially driving that increase, Westergaard said, but he added people shouldn’t worry too much.

“It can cause severe disease, particularly in elderly, vulnerable populations and those who are unvaccinated,” Westergaard said. “So we need to continue to track it, but our focus has shifted to trying to prevent severe disease, making people aware of therapeutics which can prevent people from needing to go into the hospital and just having general awareness that prevention strategies like wearing masks in indoor settings, when disease activities get high, are still things to think about.”

He also said the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of remdesivir as a treatment for children under 12 is a milestone, but likely won’t make a significant impact on reducing infection rates among children.

“Children are not becoming infected and hospitalized as in high numbers as they have in the past, and remdesivir is generally a medication used intravenously for people in the hospital,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact, but it’s good to have those treatment options.”

Westergaard also noted more preventative treatment options are available, keeping more people from severe infections that require hospitalization.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association site shows 202 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 38 intensive care patients. Both of those numbers are still relatively low, but have increased by about one-third over the past week. 

The DHS site also shows the trajectory of COVID-19 patient hospitalizations were growing in the northwest, northeast and Fox Valley Area regions by between 34 percent and 74 percent over the past two weeks. The rest of the state saw no significant change in COVID-19 hospitalizations over that period. 

See the latest case numbers here: 

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— State officials have announced 19 recipients getting DATCP Dairy Processor Grant funding this year. 

According to a release from Gov. Tony Evers, the grants aim to “foster innovation, improve profitability, and sustain the long-term viability” of dairy processing facilities in the state. 

Recipients are getting grants between $5,000 and $28,000 for projects such as dairy plant expansions, engineering and planning efforts, anaerobic digester research, new product development and more. 

See the full list of grants here: 


# Large dairy farm sues state over wastewater permit changes

# Old Germantown opens brewery, and Molson Coors releases plant-based milk: Beer Biz MKE

# UW-Madison chancellor finalists named



– Kinnard Farms suing state over conditions placed on permit

– USDA to provide payments to livestock producers impacted by drought

– Kewaunee County mega-farm sues DNR over animal limit, water requirements


– UW-Madison provost, 4 others names as chancellor finalists

– Despite fears, teacher retirements were down last year in Wisconsin

– ‘A chance to change the world’: Bill Nye talks advocacy at UW-Madison

– Madison School District undergoes a second year of significant turnover


– Learning to cope: COVID-19 exacerbates growing youth mental health challenges


– Dane County Sheriff’s Office warns of phone scam

– Judge advances Southridge Mall foreclosure case, raises possibility of sheriff’s auction


– Citizens Bank names new CFO, chief credit officer


– Impact of inflation on consumers not hurting demand for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, execs say


– New farmers market coming to The Brewery District in downtown Milwaukee


– WEDC awards $34 million to help support small businesses


– Milwaukee Bucks hope to create downtown landmark with 54-foot Giannis Antetokounmpo mural

– Giannis stands tall in three-story mural painted on Milwaukee building


– Fiserv CEO says data and analytics will be a new, high-margin revenue stream


– First 50 artists announced for ninth annual Mile of Music Aug. 4-7


– Joint Finance Committee approves WisDOT’s plan for $282.9M in new federal aid


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