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Additive manufacturing promises to grow into a $6.9 billion industry in the next four years, and as it continues to expand all over the world, Western Canada announces its wdintentions to join in. On March 13, 2015, the government announced a partnership with Canadian enterprises seeking to use “digital manufacturing” to expand business opportunities and fulfill social needs. $5 million was pledged in support to the Orthopaedic Innovation Centre (OIC), a non-profit corporation focusing on orthopaedic technology development in collaboration with industry and post-secondary institutions, by the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. She states:

“Our Government is committed to ensuring Western Canadians have access to innovative technology and skills training opportunities. The Orthopaedic Innovation Centre will establish a unique Advanced Digital Manufacturing Hub, benefiting the medical device, aerospace, and manufacturing sectors.”

The intention of the funding is to meet Canadian businesses’ prototyping and commercialization needs by developing a $20 million strategic Advanced Digital Manufacturing Hub (ADMH) over the next 5 years.

The specific focus of this new Hub will be to develop applications in the aerospace and OICa_2colourmedical markets using additive manufacturing technologies, because these sectors have high potential for adoption of such technology. They also present the most potential profitability for such a large investment. Aerospace and medical device components share similarities in the areas of research and development, quality control, materials, standards, product liability and a need for long service life. Therefore, it makes sense to combine these two sectors into one larger initiative that can develop technologies to further greater economic interests.

Western Economic Diversification’s investment will be used by the OIC for the purchase of metal additive and digital subtractive manufacturing equipment by OIC’s new division, Precision ADM. This new division plans to invest in the Hub by working with various stakeholders to maximize investments and collaborate on new and exciting initiatives—stimulating private investment in the Hub at the same time. There isStratasysLogoWithTagline_CMYK_highres already significant private sector interest in the Hub. Canada’s first manufacturing facility will be established in Winnipeg by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Jim Bartel, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing’s Senior Vice President summarizes his division’s view of this Canadian partnership:

“Stratasys Direct Manufacturing aims to expand access to 3D printing in and across Canada. By establishing local presence in Winnipeg and leveraging strategic partnerships with organizations like the Orthopedic Innovation Center, we look forward to driving the innovation and commercialization of new applications in the medical and aerospace markets using additive technologies.”

Aerospace contract manufacturing company, Magellan Aerospace, has also invested in the research and development aspect of the Hub, in order to develop aerospace metal additive manufacturing capabilities.

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Martin Petrak, President and CEO of the OIC, summarizes the level of innovation he expects will occur in the partnership with Magellan Aerospace and the other organizations participating in the new Advanced Digital Manufacturing Hub :

“Additive manufacturing allows engineers and surgeons at OIC to design medical devices that will also allow for patient specific solutions in ways that were not possible with conventional manufacturing methods. The Advanced Digital Manufacturing Hub is a unique opportunity for OIC and its strategic partners to create a factory of the future. Partners including Stratasys, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Magellan Aerospace, EOS of North America, Western Economic Diversification, and the Province of Manitoba will accelerate the path of commercializing additively manufactured end products made from specialized metal powders and polymer materials for both the medical and aerospace industries in Manitoba and the rest of Canada.”

As more government’s invest in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, these sectors will certainly receive the support they have been seeking, and will be able to operate in an optimal fashion that maximizes innovation and efficiency.  Friday’s announcement of a $5 million investment in additive manufacturing  now places Western Canada on the map as a place to watch for high tech innovation — especially in the medical and aerospace sectors.

Let us know your thoughts on this announcement in the Canadian 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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