In an effort to boost US manufacturing, President Obama recently announced the opening of two new manufacturing innovation hubs. The hubs will serve as institutions to increase manufacturing technology in the US and will create local jobs for middle-class workers.
The first innovation hubs to open will operate in Chicago and Detroit. These will be led by the Department of Defense and backed by more than $280 million in combined private and public funds. Both institutions will bring together universities, non-profit organizations, and companies, which can all contribute and benefit from the hubs. Additionally, the hubs will allow students, engineers, and workers of all skill levels to learn from and work with cutting-edge technology. The hubs will also help small businesses thrive by allowing them access to the latest manufacturing technology.
The Chicago-area institution will focus and specialize on digital manufacturing and design. From the beginning stages of product design to the final production stages, digital design has drastically changed the way the design process is executed. When beginning new designs, all schematics and board layouts are now done with CAD tools. Furthermore, simulation software is commonly used to test designs before any physical prototypes are made, saving time and costs in product development. Just a few of the partners involved in the Chicago institution include 3D Systems, Boeing, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and UI Labs.
The Detroit-located institution will develop lightweight and modern metals manufacturing processes. The development of lighter, stronger metals has allowed vehicles such as cars and airplanes to be stronger and lighter. As a result, the vehicles see an increase in fuel efficiency and also a rise in safety. What the institution will serve to do is create quicker and more economical ways to create these metals through the manufacturing process. As a result, areas such as aerospace, automotive, and renewable energy can see significant advances in high-performance lightweight metals. Just as with the Chicago institution, the hub will be backed by a wide array of reputable partners, such as AEM, Illinois Tool Works, NanoSteel Company, Wolf Robotics, Michigan Tech University, and the American Welding Society.
The President's innovation hubs stems from his State of the Union address, in which he pledged to use his executive authority to advance America's manufacturing technology and jobs. In January of this year a Next Generation Power Electronics innovation hub was announced to be located in Raleigh, N.C. This hub will focus on creating new energy solutions and power electronics manufacturing technology.
As with the two previously mentioned hubs, the advanced composites hub will bring together partners spanning the entire industry to collaborate and create next-generation technology. Overall, Obama has held up his word for creating jobs by making manufacturing in the US more accessible and affordable. This push for advanced manufacturing will not put America into the top global spot for manufacturing, but this is a great step in the right direction.