Moving Beyond Just Interest in AM

Institute aims to fill the knowledge gap between interest in additive technologies and knowing their precise capabilities.

Columns From: 10/18/2012 MoldMaking Technology, , from MoldMaking Technology magazine

Editor's Commentary

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Christina M. Fuges

“It’s all about collaborating and pulling our industry together into a team to grow faster than what single entities would be able to do by themselves.” That comment from Matt Hlavin (see below) seems to capture the overall sentiment of partnering organizations involved with the newly formed National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).
 
This past March, President Obama announced the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which includes as many as 15 Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation across the nation charged with speeding innovation by connecting industry, academia and government to focus investment into “industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications.”
 
In August, NAMII, based in Youngstown, Ohio, was announced as the pilot institute. NAMII and its partnering organizations share a single goal: “to transition additive manufacturing technology to the mainstream U.S. manufacturing sector.”
 
So what does this all mean? Let’s hear from some of the partners.
 
Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates says some of NAMII’s main initiatives are increasing AM’s technology-readiness level; technology transfer into the private sector; education for both practicing professionals and young people; standards development and application; applied research (taking the tools already in place and making them commercial successes); and serving as a model for other centers of excellence.
 
“The creation of NAMII will help with accelerating the message of what AM is, what it can do for companies’ products and how the various technologies will transform certain aspects of manufacturing in the U.S.,” says Greg Morris of Morris Technologies. “Although there has been increased interest in AM recently, there is a gap in knowledge relative to exactly what these technologies can do. This is where NAMII will play a critical role—connecting the capabilities of the technologies with the needs of industry and helping to transfer knowledge about just how disruptive additive manufacturing can be to many industries.”
 
Brian Frank, industry solutions manager at Autodesk, adds, “We believe that technology advances like those being explored by NAMII will continue to improve the capabilities of our nation’s manufacturing base, which is a critical growth engine for our country.”
 
And over at rp+m (Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing), R&D specialist Clark Patterson explains that his company got involved not only to help develop new materials and processes for the AM industry, but also to be involved in workforce development at NAMII. “We can help guide employee training and develop the right skill set,” Patterson says.
 
Matt Hlavin, CEO and founder of rp+m, echoes this sentiment, saying that NAMII is going to foster training of future workers, as well as new technologies and materials, through collaboration. “It’s all about collaborating and pulling our industry together into a team to grow faster than what single entities would be able to do by themselves,” Hlavin says.
 
As of press time, the initial NAMII meeting was fast approaching, so stay tuned for any relevant updates, or visit namii.org
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