The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute [NAMII] came to national attention when President Obama mentioned them in this year’s State of the Union Address. He described a manufacturing hub that “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” But a question on many people’s minds was: how will the government funding for NAMII be used?
An announcement this week by the Youngstown, OH public-private partnership named the awardees from its first call for projects. NAMII will provide $4.5 million in funding for R&D projects that are designed to speed new innovative products and processes to the factory floor for next generation manufacturing.
The awardees for seven projects include Aerospace industry giant Northrop Grumman, part producer RP+M, and three universities: Case Western Reserve, Penn State, and Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Knowing that cost of membership in the Institute is high – lowest tier Supporting Members fee is $15,000 – I wondered if a group needed to be a member to apply for project funding. Scott Deutsch from the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, which operates NAMII, confirmed that yes, awards were only open to members. But he clarified, “anyone can partner with a member to present a project for funding consideration”.
And so the 7 awards actually will impact a larger number of participants. For example, small business RP+M partnered with equipment manufacturers, system integrators and the University of Dayton Research Institute to study “Maturation of Fused Depositing Modeling Component Manufacturing”. That’s engineer-speak for learning about the design and manufacturing properties of a new high-temperature polymer, ULTEM™ 9085, in order to create a design guide, with processing data, as well as machine, material, part and process certification. These are key elements for the practical use of additive manufacturing in factory settings.
While 3D Printing was actually mentioned by the President, NAMII works to foster the larger additive manufacturing area. 3d Printing is just one technology of many being studied and moved forward. And while the media is full of great stories about the factory moving to our homes, NAMII ‘s work focuses on preparing additive manufacturing to fit into the current manufacturing infrastructure. Like many people in the trenches, Mr. Deutsch explains that the advent of home manufacturing is quite a long time off in the future.
NAMII is also putting forth tremendous emphasis to work on extending beyond the devices and processes. Each of the projects were required to demonstrate educational outreach and workforce development training for the new products and processes they are developing.
Details of NAMII’s next project call will be announced at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers RAPID Conference and Exposition June 10 – 13 in Pittsburgh. Details on the first round winning project are on the NAMII website news page.