Future Wabtec facility at Neighborhood 91. Rendering courtesy of Buncher Co.

Pittsburgh has 90 unique, distinctive neighborhoods. Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) wants to add another one, Neighborhood 91.

The neighborhood is planned as an innovation hub on PIT property that aims to be the first in the world to connect all the elements of the additive manufacturing/3-D printing supply chain together in one place.

And it will be home to a company descended from George Westinghouse, whose invention of the air brake in a factory in the Strip District changed manufacturing and transportation forever. Pittsburgh-based Wabtec, which provides equipment and technology for the rail industry, will be an anchor tenant.

Neighborhood 91 is being developed with the University of Pittsburgh. It’s the first development of the 195-acre Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus.

This will give Wabtec the chance to deploy the latest additive manufacturing technology, to make aluminum transit components like brake parts and heat sinks for locomotives.

The company is taking 11,000 square feet of space in a building that’s now under construction and scheduled to be completed by spring 2021. By 2025, Wabtec hopes to use additive manufacturing to build more than 25,000 parts.

Wabtec will join another early tenant, Arencibia, which will supply argon and other gases used in additive manufacturing. The airport has stated that Neighborhood 91 could eventually support 1,000 jobs.

“Part of our vision as an airport is to advance the region’s role as a world leader,” says Pittsburgh International Airport CEO Christina Cassotis. “Additive manufacturing is looking for a place to call home and now, with Neighborhood 91, that vision is becoming reality.”

Wabtec will be able to ship parts immediately from PIT to anywhere in the world within 24 hours, cutting transportation costs.

“As the first development in the world to connect all elements of the additive manufacturing supply chain into a single location, Neighborhood 91 is the ideal location to fully realize the potential of this technology,” says Eric Gebhardt, Wabtec’s chief technology officer.

Additive manufacturing, also referred to as 3D printing, uses computer-aided design technology to deposit and shape materials precisely, using layer upon layer of metallic powder (hence, the term additive). Printing parts on demand can yield a lot of efficiencies, speed up production and keep costs low. Additive manufacturing also allows for quick shifts in production from one part to another, a major boost over traditional fabrication.

Image courtesy of PIT.

Wabtec has operations on six continents, led from its Pittsburgh headquarters. In 2019, they reported $8.2 billion in sales.

Wabtec is currently laying off employees in Erie, PA, due to a rail industry slowdown during the pandemic. The site at Neighborhood 91 will employ “less than 5,” says Wabtec spokesperson Deia Campanelli.

“Wabtec’s commitment to Neighborhood 91 is the latest example of our region continuing to move forward even in a pandemic,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “A Fortune 500 company, Wabtec’s decision to select Neighborhood 91 for its next manufacturing facility is a huge step for the development and Pittsburgh International Airport.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.