Illinois has long served as a hub for the United States, located partway between the financial and political centers of the East Coast and the frontiers of the West. It then became a hub internationally, as O’Hare International Airport has regularly ranked as one of the busiest airports in the world. Now, thanks to a partnership between DMG MORI and Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago will become a focal point for high-tech production technology as the pair announced plans to create a national center for advanced manufacturing in the city.
“Chicago has long been an engine of technological opportunities for research, teaching, entrepreneurship, and engagement, and an attractive global destination for talent,” said Raj Echambadi, President of Illinois Institute of Technology. “As Chicago’s only technology-focused university, our national center for advanced manufacturing builds upon our historic strengths of relevance-inspired research and quality teaching, helping us seize this vital moment to advance technology as an innovation and opportunity engine for the entire region. We’re thrilled to be working with DMG MORI to cement Chicago as the center of a revitalized American manufacturing industry.”
The site will be located at Illinois Tech’s Bronzeville campus on the South Side of Chicago, where it will offer in-person and online curricula dedicated to training, developing, and empowering the next generation of workers in advanced manufacturing. In turn, the partners hope that the facility will make the city a hub for creating and supporting a local and national workforce for “high-growth, high-paying, and high-tech manufacturing jobs.”
To accomplish this, the site will establish further partners in industry and higher education from the local region. It will also align its curricula with the economic and national security needs of the U.S. This includes taking advantage of the programs and funding from the CHIPS act, which will assist the national advanced manufacturing center in reshoring production jobs, particularly in the semiconductor, aerospace, defense, health care, and automotive industries.
The announcement came with a number of endorsements from prominent Illinois politicians, including Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, U.S. Congressman Sean Casten, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis, U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush, and U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. Gov. Pritzker had this to say:
“This groundbreaking partnership between DMG MORI and Illinois Tech will not only open doors for countless Illinois students—it will also solidify our status as a national hub for the manufacturing industry. It is partnerships like these that advance our vision of an Illinois that is economically prosperous with the promise of opportunity at every turn.”
The partners pointed out that almost 58 percent of U.S. research and development is manufacturing related. The national center for advanced manufacturing hopes to assist in this regard, helping to drive innovation within the region and increase access to related technologies. This includes offering master’s and doctoral degree programs that are tailored to specific industries, while maintaining practical applications.
In our industry, DMG Mori is known for its CNC machining, hybrid 3D printing, and metal 3D printing technologies. Its hybrid systems feature a combination of directed energy deposition and milling, allowing for the possibility of 3D printing a metal object before machining it to tolerance. Moreover, the use of DED makes it possible to repair metal components and combine multiple materials. One notable user of DMG’s hybrid machines is Virgin Orbit, which uses a Lasertec 4300 to manufacture rocket engine parts. With DMG’s acquisition of Realizer, it was able to introduce a laser powder bed fusion metal 3D printer.
In 2018, DMG Mori USA announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Chicago, close to the Illinois Tech campus. While the company still seems to be operating out of its prior location in the suburb of Hoffman Estates, it has continued building a relationship with the school over the years. This has included the lending of equipment, such as CNC milling and metal 3D printing machines, and collaboration on manufacturing open houses.
For its part, Illinois Tech has recently attempted to situate itself at the center of the U.S. strategy for reshoring manufacturing. In addition to planning the new facility with DMG Mori, the school has joined the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen to develop hydrogen power technology. While hydrogen power initially seemed like a long-shot solution to fossil fuel dependence, it is becoming an increasingly proposed alternative to oil and gas. As a novel area for research and development, hydrogen power will be ripe for additive manufacturing applications.
By adopting technologies like 3D printing, Illinois Tech and DMG Mori will not only help make Chicago a hub for advanced manufacturing on the whole but will also cultivate a series of new innovations in the process.
3DPrint.com and SmarTech Analysis are hosting Additive Manufacturing Strategies in New York City on February 7-9, 2023. Register for the event here to learn from and network with the most exciting companies and individuals in AM.
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