DMDII receives Defense Dept. funding to strengthen research

Grants totaling $30 million over next five years will fund advanced manufacturing projects.

By Bob Vavra February 21, 2019

The Chicago-based Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) will receive as much as $30 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense over the next five years to study and improve digital manufacturing.

With city, state and federal government leaders looking on, DMDII officials announced the funding Feb. 21, and noted the connection between a strong manufacturing sector and a strong national defense.

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

Since it was formed in 2014 as part of a multidiscipline approach to modernize manufacturing, DMDII has attracted partners from academia to business. The goal has been to create a self-sustaining research and develop center and also to bring technology together in a single facility to test and refine ideas for modern manufacturing. The center has invested approximately $90 million on some 60 research projects on topics ranging from augmented reality to reducing error and scrap in parts manufacturing.

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 such project, Lockheed Martin partnered with Siemens, Rochester Institute of Technology and printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and designers to digitize the production process.

“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.”

“Manufacturing is a critical part of the Illinois economy and we must maintain America’s competitive edge,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a press release announcing the funding. “UI LABS helps our state and our nation achieve success on both fronts. I’m pleased to help secure federal funding for DMDII in my role as Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and to support this renewed partnership for a long time to come.”

Author Bio: Bob is the Content Manager for Plant Engineering.