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Obama Announces Metals, Digital Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

Posted By David Brousell, February 25, 2014 at 1:42 PM, in Category: Manufacturing Advocacy

President Obama yesterday announced the formation of two manufacturing innovation consortiums, one in Detroit that will focus on lightweight metals manufacturing and one in Chicago that will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies.

The Detroit-based group, called the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute (LM31), and the Chicago-area group, called the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, are both supported by the Department of Defense and backed with a $140 million commitment of federal funds and a matching, $140 million composed of what was described as non-federal resources.

Both groups are the result of competitions stemming from President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union commitment to launch three manufacturing innovation institutes. In January, the first of the three, the Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, NC, was launched.

The 60-member LM31 Institute brings together aluminum, titanium, and high strength steel manufacturers with universities and laboratories working on research and new technology development.

The goal of LM31, the Obama Administration said, is to accelerate innovation in the manufacturing industry by developing and expanding “the use of technologies at the important intersection of materials, manufacturing, and design.” Long term, the administration wants the LM31 Institute to expand the market and create new consumers of products and systems that use advanced lightweight materials.

The LM31 Institute will be led by EWI, a Columbus, OH, company that provides applied research, manufacturing support, and strategic services to more than 1,200 member companies. The other 34 member companies of the consortium include: ABS, AEM, ALCOA Technology, Boeing, Comau, Easom Automation, EWI, Fabrisonic, Flash Bainite Steel, GE, Honda North American Services, Huys, Infinium, Inc., Innovative Weld Solutions, ITW, Lockheed Martin, Luvata, Materion, MesoCoat, MTI, NanoSteel Company, Optomec, Phoenix Integration, PowderMet, RealWeld, RTI International Metals, SaCell, Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), Steel Warehouse Co., ThermoCalc, TIMET, Trumpf, Inc., UTRC, Wolf Robotics.

The consortium also includes nine universities and Labs: Colorado School of Mines, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Tennessee, Wayne State University.

And LM31 includes 17 other organizations: American Foundry Society, American Welding Society, ASM International, CAR, Columbus State Community College, Conexus Indiana, DET NORSKE VERITAS™, Focus Hope, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Ivy Tech, Macomb Community College, MAGNET, Pellissippi State Community College, State of Kentucky, State of Michigan, State of Ohio, Southeast Michigan Workforce Intelligence Network

The 73-member Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute will focused on exploiting and growing the U.S. lead in digital manufacturing.

“As a result of increasing complexity of manufactured systems, increasing diversity across the supply chain, and the increasing requirement for low-volume production to meet highly customized needs, there is a growing opportunity to expand our capabilities in digital manufacturing and design to drive U.S. manufacturing leadership,” the Obama Administration said.

“There are significant challenges to integrate this ‘digital thread’ across different manufactured technologies and across the supply chain.  These challenges include establishing true interoperability, the effective and balanced management of intellectual property interests, maintaining network technology and security, workforce skills, and new organizational cultures that embrace and leverage the digital thread.  Collaboration across industry, academia and government provides an opportunity to directly address these challenges in a pre-competitive way.”

This institute, which will be led by UI Labs, includes the following:

Forty-one companies: 3D Systems, ANSYS, Autodesk, Big Kaiser Precision Tooling Inc., Boeing, Caron Engineering Inc., Caterpillar, CG Tech, Cincinnati Inc., Colorado Association for Manufacturing & Technology, Cray, Dassault Systems, Deere & Company, DMG Mori, Evolved Analytics LLC, General Dynamics - Ordnance & Tactical Systems, General Electric, Haas Automation, Honeywell, Illinois Tool Works, Imagecom Inc. (Aspire 3D), International TechneGroup Inc., Kennametal, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, MSC Software, North American Die Casting Association, National Instruments, Nimbis Services Inc., Okuma, Palo Alto Research Center, Parlec, Procter & Gamble, Product Development & Analysis, PTC, Inc., Rockwell Collins, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, System Insights, The Dow Chemical Company, UPS;

Twenty-three Universities and labs: Colorado University – Boulder, Illinois Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Iowa State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Notre Dame, Oregon State, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Southern Illinois University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Louisville, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, University of Northern Iowa, University of Texas – Austin, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Western Illinois University;

And nine other organizations: American Foundry Society, City of Chicago – Department of Housing & Economic Opportunity, Colorado OEDIT, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, MT Connect Institute, Reshoring Initiative, UI Labs.

The Obama Administration also announced yesterday that it will launch a competition for a manufacturing innovation institute focused on making advanced composites, the first of four new competitions to be undertaken this year. Ultimately, President Obama’s vision is to create up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes.


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Written by David Brousell

Global Vice President, General Manager and Editorial Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council



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