After shedding jobs for a decade, U.S. manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three years. Manufacturing production has grown since the end of the recession at its fastest pace in over a decade. To build on this momentum, the President has outlined a proposal to invest in American manufacturing.
This includes a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) which would require a $1 billion investment at the Department of Commerce to create the NNMI, a model based on approaches that other countries have successfully deployed. Each institute would serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between basic research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and community colleges, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of innovation infrastructure provides a unique ‘teaching factory’ that allows for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.
The Department of Defense will lead two of the new Institutes, focused on “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation” and “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing,” and the Department of Energy will be leading one new institute on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing.”
All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts. Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year. Federal funds will be matched by industry co-investment, support from state and local governments, and other sources. Like the pilot institute, these Institutes are expected to become financially self-sustaining, and the plan to achieve this objective will be a critical evaluation criterion in the selection process. DOD and DOE are opening the competition for the three new institutes immediately:
- Department of Defense—”Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation“
- Department of Defense—”Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing“
- Department of Energy—”Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing“
Technology Areas for New Institutes
Federal agencies have selected technology areas that have broad commercial applications but meet critical mission needs. The selected technology areas also build off existing multi-agency priority initiatives like the Materials Genome Initiative. The three topic areas are:
- Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation: Advanced design and manufacturing tools that are digitally integrated and networked with supply chains can lead to ‘factories of the future’ forming an agile U.S. industrial base with significant speed to market advantage. A national institute focusing on the development of novel model-based design methodologies, virtual manufacturing tools, and sensor and robotics based manufacturing networks will accelerate the innovation in digital manufacturing increasing U.S. competitiveness.
- Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing: Advanced lightweight metals possess mechanical and electrical properties comparable to traditional materials while enabling much lighter components and products. A national institute will make the U.S. more competitive by scaling-up research to accelerate market expansion for products such as wind turbines, medical devices, engines, armored combat vehicles, and airframes, and lead to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.
- Next Generation Power Electronics: Wide bandgap semiconductor based power electronic devices represent the next major platform beyond the silicon based devices that have driven major technological advances in our economy over the last several decades. Wide bandgap technology will enable dramatically more compact and efficient power electronic devices for electric vehicles, renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors and a smarter more flexible grid; in addition to high-performance defense applications (e.g. reducing the size of a sub-station to a suit case).
In August 2012, the Administration announced the winner of an initial $30 million Federal award to create a pilot institute, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). Headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, NAMII consists of a consortium of manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations primarily from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia ‘Tech Belt’. NAMII was selected from amongst twelve teams from around the country that applied for the award. The members of NAMII will co-invest $40 million against the initial Federal award.
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a new way of making products and components from a digital model, and will have implications in a wide range of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and metals manufacturing. Like an office printer that puts 2D digital files on a piece of paper, a 3D printer creates components by depositing thin layers of material one after another using a digital blueprint until the exact component required has been created. The Department of Defense envisions customizing parts on site for operational systems that would otherwise be expensive to make or ship. The Department of Energy anticipates that additive processes would be able to save more than 50% energy use compared to today’s ‘subtractive’ manufacturing processes.
Meet Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford and Keith Nosbusch, CEO Rockwell Automation
Meet Alan Mulally,Lynn Tilton, Keith Nosbusch and other Smart Manufacturing leaders on May 21-22 by joining us at the Smart Manufacturing Summit, where mid-market manufacturing CEOs connect with top-performing peers and learn best practices. This extraordinary event brings together the thinkers and doers who are writing American manufacturing’s comeback story. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to bring fresh thinking to the opportunities and threats facing your business.
Our full lineup of speakers:
Alan Mulally, CEO, Ford Motor Company
Farooq Kathwari, President, Chairman, & CEO Ethan Allen Interiors
Dr. George Calvert, Chief Supply Chain and R&D Officer, Amway
Dave Bozeman, SVP of Caterpillar Enterprise Systems unit of Caterpillar
Keith Nosbusch, Chairman & CEO, Rockwell Automation
Stephanie Streeter, CEO, Libbey
John Fleming, Global Head of Manufacturing at Ford
Jim Jarrell, President, Linamar
Jason Blessing, CEO, Plex Systems.
Cristian Pedersen, General Manager, Microsoft Dynamics
Doug Farren, Associate Director, National Center for the Middle Market