AMS Spring 2023

Southern Virginia to Open $25.5M Manufacturing Center with 3D Printing

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Ground was just broken for a new facility in Southern Virginia. The Center for Manufacturing Advancement (CMA) will be a 51,250-square-foot site meant to allow manufacturing companies  to grow and bring business to the region. Funded by the state of Virginia and the Danville Regional Foundation, the $25.5 million project will be located on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) and will feature 3D printing, among other manufacturing technologies.

With the press release announcing the groundbreaking of the project, numerous representatives spoke about the need to develop Southern Virginia economically, while encouraging the development of new manufacturing technologies. The CMA represents the state’s desire to improve the manufacturing ecosystem of Southern Virginia using facilities that will make it possible for new businesses to begin operating while they establish more extensive factories of their own.

“Southern Virginia is a top location for advanced manufacturers from across the globe, and the Center for Manufacturing Advancement will undoubtedly help attract more of them to the region,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “This state-of-the-art facility will play an important role in driving economic development and innovation in Virginia, while also helping the existing Danville-Pittsylvania business community grow and thrive.”

With that in mind, the site will include an ISO-certified inspection lab that makes it possible to perform quality control, thus reducing the four-to-six-month startup phase for new companies as they certify their products. It will also include process improvement labs for new and established businesses to improve their production more quickly so that they can better compete globally.

A rendering of the Center for Manufacturing Advancement. Image courtesy of Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

A lab dedicated to industry 4.0 integration and training will make it possible to apply industry 4.0 philosophies to companies, as well. The site will host a platform that enables collaboration between various companies and engineering students in order to develop, incorporate and display new technologies. A concierge service will also supply general support for companies new to the U.S. during their initial setup phase.

“As technology exponentially advances, it is critical we stay at the forefront of integrating these innovations into training and manufacturing processes,” said Troy Simpson, Director of Advanced Manufacturing at IALR. “Our new Center for Manufacturing Advancement will do just that – allow companies to interface with one another, technology providers and students to leverage space, collaboration and equipment opportunities for their own growth and advancement.”

Among the stakeholders in the project is the Phillips Corporation. Not to be confused with the Dutch multinational, Royal Philips, the Maryland-based Phillips Corporation is a supplier of manufacturing technology. It boasts a growing additive division that includes the sale of EOS metal 3D printers. This summer, the Federal Division of the Phillips Corporation, which distributes and provides service for machines and other ancillary equipment to the United States Federal Government and the DoD, entered into a Public Private Partnership Agreement with the U.S. Army and began working with Australia’s SPEE3D technology with the U.S. Navy. Now, Phillips has announced that it will be housing some operations at the new CMA site.

“We are excited to announce Phillips’ commitment to locate our next manufacturing solutions innovation center at IALR’s new CMA building in 2022,” said Alan Phillips, President/CEO of Phillips Corporation. “This commitment is a natural and continuing extension of our long-standing training and manufacturing technology collaborations with ILAR. We believe there are substantial and immediate needs to develop additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies to support expansion of the USA’s manufacturing competitiveness as well as to strengthen the capacity and capabilities of our Defense Industrial Base. We are very pleased to continue our partnerships with IALR, the Danville community, and the Southern Virginia academic and business community, with a common mission to develop outstanding training and manufacturing technology resources.”

As a part of the state government, the IALR is meant to be an organization dedicated to driving economic transformation in the region via research, education, manufacturing and other operations. To do so, it works with Virginia Tech, Danville Community College and Averett University.

The CMA will be located on the IALR campus adjacent to the new Kyocera SGS Tech Hub facility, a site established by KYOCERA SGS Precision Tools (KSPT) to focus on custom cutting tools and new technologies. As a division of the large Japanese conglomerate, Kyocera Corporation, which has a market cap of $22.4 billion, it should have hefty backing from its parent company to explore new methods of making custom cutting tools.

3D printing aficionados should understand the implications, as 3D printing is increasingly used to manufacture new cutting tools and particularly excels at custom parts. For this reason and more, SmarTech Analysis projects in its “Market Opportunities for Additive Manufacturing in the General Industry and Tooling Sector-2020-2029” report that the general industry and tooling market for additive manufacturing could reach $5.48 Billion by 2029.

Obviously, any synergy between Kyocera and the CMA will just be a small part of the larger operations of the new site. Altogether, it seems as though the CMA is almost a state and regional version of the advanced manufacturing hubs initiated under the Obama administration. When the facility opens in 2022, we’ll have a better idea of what will occur there and its potential impact on the region.

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