DMDII Awarded $10 Million in Federal Funding

Partnership with U.S. Department of Defense will continue for five more years.

Partnership with U.S. Department of Defense will continue for five more years.

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded $10 million in funding this year and is pledging at least $20 million more over the next five years to drive the digital future of manufacturing.

This award is part of a multi-year, follow-on agreement with a ceiling of $60 million of government funding.

“Since our founding, the opportunity and urgency to lead the charge to digitize U.S. manufacturing has only grown,” says Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO of UI LABS, DMDII’s parent organization. “It is essential for our national security and our prosperity that DMDII ramp up its efforts to pull manufacturers into the modern era.”

DMDII’s mission is to enable U.S. manufacturers to make every part better than the last. That requires production lines to be embedded with software and sensors that connect to the internet. Only with this ability to send and receive data can the equipment improve itself and learn from every part produced in real time.

It is a goal far too big for any one company to solve on its own, which is why the Institute has attracted more than 300 partners, including Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and McKinsey & Company.

Since its founding in 2014, DMDII has invested approximately $90 million in more than 60 applied research projects nationwide. DMDII is facilitating factory worker training using augmented reality, updating legacy machines for the digital age, and reducing error and scrap in high-value parts.

In one project, Lockheed Martin partnered with Siemens, Rochester Institute of Technology and printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and designers to digitize the production process. This effort is paving the way for reshoring in the PCB industry.

“Digital transformation is about reimagining the process by which we, as a community, turn ideas into solutions,” said Jeff Wilcox, vice president of digital transformation at Lockheed Martin. “DMDII has created a model that makes it easy to partner in a collaborative ecosystem that enhances our nation’s manufacturing competitiveness.”

Another example is DMDII’s collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Rock Island Arsenal, the nation’s government-owned weapons manufacturer. With the aim of getting equipment to U.S. warfighters faster, the arsenal and DMDII have used 3D modeling to assess the arsenal’s manufacturing processes.

“American manufacturing must remain competitive since it underpins national and economic security,” says Tracy Frost, the Pentagon’s director of the DoD Manufacturing Institutes and its Manufacturing Technology program. “The advanced manufacturing technology solutions being pioneered at DMDII strengthen the U.S. industrial base and supply chain resiliency to support our warfighters, and the Department of Defense is excited to continue to partner with the institute and watch it grow.”

The institute is based in a former window factory on Goose Island near downtown Chicago. On site is the McKinsey Digital Capability Center and DMDII’s future factory testbeds. Both are live examples of digitally enabled manufacturing processes.

“We’re trying to take factories from the record player to the smartphone; it’s a huge leap,” says Chandra Brown, DMDII’s executive director. “It’s known as the Internet of Things — IoT. We are the place to go to learn what’s next in industrial IoT, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity in manufacturing, as well as equip workers with the digital skills necessary to compete.”

DMDII is in partnership with UI LABS and the Department of Defense. DMDII equips U.S. factories with digital tools and expertise.

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Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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