Will U.S. innovation and competitiveness grow or contract in the next decade? A billion-dollar initiative by the Obama administration — the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) — aims to ensure its growth through the development of 15 “centers of excellence” that bring industries together to solve manufacturing problems in an innovative way and provide U.S. manufacturers access to best-in-class technologies.
Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) has been selected as part of a team of leaders under this new program to develop the first center of excellence — an additive manufacturing institute — funded by $70 million, with $30 million coming from the NNMI and $40 million from private industry. Additive manufacturing was chosen as one of the centers because the process was identified as key to the future of U.S. production. The center will be called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).
“The competitiveness of our country depends on new technologies, such as additive manufacturing,” said Stratasys VP of direct digital manufacturing, Jeff DeGrange. “This new institute will accelerate development of additive manufacturing technologies to benefit U.S. competitiveness. Additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing, reduces tooling costs, startup costs, inventory, raw-material use, energy consumption and the waste stream associated with traditional manufacturing processes.”
The additive manufacturing center will be managed by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). The NCDMM said in a news release that each of the 15 institutes:“will bridge the gap between basic research and product development, provide shared assets to give companies — particularly small manufacturers — better access to cutting-edge capabilities and equipment, and create an unparalleled environment to educate and train students and workers in advanced manufacturing skills. These Institutes will serve as regional hubs of manufacturing innovation, and will be known as world-class centers for applied research, technology incubation, and commercialization.”