3D Printing Technology Plays Major Role in White House’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute Competition

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selectusaThis week, emerging technologies and breakthrough manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, are being thrust forth into the spotlight in Washington, D.C., as the Obama Administration is dedicating an entire week to recognizing the creative and innovative endeavors within the United States. This is far from President Barack Obama’s first rodeo with 3D printing technology; the sitting President has already had a 3D portrait taken of himself, and has even been advised by a 9-year-old 3D printing enthusiast on the country’s education system at the recently held White House Science Fair. Before he finishes up his final year as the United States President, Obama is planning to set America on the path towards new innovation and advanced manufacturing methods.

During the week-long effort, business leaders, economic development officials, and investors from around the world gathered for the third annual SelectUSA Summit. At the investment summit, President Obama announced that the Los Angeles, California-headquartered consortium, named the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), will lead the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which is the ninth manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama Administration. The victorious coalition is comprised of over 200 partners from over 30 states, and is primarily focused on advancing smart sensors and digital process controls, which they believe can radically improve the efficiency and sustainability of advanced manufacturing in the United States.

obamaThe SMLC has brought in over $140 million in investments from prestigious universities and manufacturers to help develop these new technologies, and will now lead the new institute in collaboration with the Department of Energy. Not only did President Obama reward the SMLC with control of the newly developed Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, he also announced a string of new manufacturing hub competitions that would function through the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

The Obama Administration will launch five competitions, each one focused on a different aspect that supports the transformation of manufacturing techniques in the United States. One of these competitions, called Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing, will aim to develop next-generation methods to repair and replace cells and tissues. Working in collaboration with the Department of Defense, the White House expects 3D bioprinting to play a major role in this research, along with cell science, process design, and automated pharmaceutical screening methods. With this particular hub competition, the government hopes for an outcome where critical organs can be manufactured for urgent transplants.

SMLCOther competition hubs include the Robotics in Manufacturing Environments Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which will focus on building and leading smart collaborative robots, as well as the Reducing Embodied Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing Institute, which will aim to develop new technologies that enable man-made materials to be recycled, reused, and remanufactured. To accomplish these wide-reaching goals, the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute will function through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a group comprised of academia, industry, and federal partners looking to enhance the manufacturing capabilities of the US.

Through the NNMI, the US currently has nine institutes that make up this expansive innovation network, including their first-ever manufacturing institute to pioneer news 3D printing technologies, called America Makes, which is located in Youngstown, Ohio. These nine institutes have been utilized by nearly 1,000 companies, universities, and nonprofits, and have raised a whopping $1.2 billion in non-federal resources from their well-established members, as well as a $600 million commitment from the US government. Thus far, these institutes have already proved their immense value in Rochester, New York, where they’ve helped bring in over $1.4 billion and create 800 manufacturing jobs through a new photonics companies, which is pioneering the first-ever FDA approved 3D printed medical device.

3dp_marshabitat_logo_america_makesOther investments, primarily targeted at America Makes, has helped lead to other developments in 3D printing technology. For instance, America Makes assisted in the creation of GE’s new $32 million global 3D printing hub, and also encouraged the lightweight metal technology company Alcoa to invest $60 million in its own facilities, which will directly benefit America Makes’ metal 3D printing capabilities.

All in all, the Obama Administration has place a noticeable importance on developing new and improved manufacturing techniques, and it’s evident that innovating upon 3D printing technology has been a priority on the President’s list. With the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and its corresponding manufacturing hub competitions, America is looking to become the tech trailblazers of the world. It seems that additive manufacturing will play a major role in getting the country to that point. Discuss further in the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute BioPrinting Contest forum over at 3DPB.com.

Below is a video of President Obama’s remarks at the SelectUSA Summit:

[Source: The White House]
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