Industry Market Trends
NAMII and the Future of Manufacturing
October 2, 2012
A new consortium of industrial businesses, academic institutions and non-profit organizations has been put together to support additive fabrication and educate the public that manufacturing is high-tech and attractive. What are some of the benefits we can expect to see from this initiative as the sector tries to remake its image? The United States manufacturing sector is facing numerous challenges: a growing shortage of skilled workers, a decline in international demand for U.S. exports and a sluggish economy that is impeding growth across a range of industries. However, a new consortium for manufacturing innovation is introducing efforts to revitalize American industry, backed by a combination of federal and private-sector funding. If it succeeds, it's likely to be the first of many public-private initiatives working to kick-start U.S. manufacturing. The new partnership, known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), is based Youngstown, Ohio, and brings together member organizations from industry, academia, government and workforce development agencies with the intended aim of moving additive manufacturing technology into the "mainstream" of the U.S. manufacturing sector. "NAMII is the pilot institute for a new type of partnership between research and business and academia," Darrell Wallace, acting deputy director of workforce and educational outreach at NAMII and a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Youngstown State University, told IMT. "This center is explicitly focused on technologies that are as near to commercial viability as possible. We're looking for technologies that can have tremendous value but for some reason haven't made the transition to the market yet." "[I]nvestments like this new pilot institute demonstrate the potential within a region to bring together the capabilities of America's companies and universities, in partnership with the federal government, to invest in the cutting-edge technologies and skills our manufacturers need to compete," according to the White House. "With this initiative, Youngstown is poised to become the epicenter of burgeoning new industries from its leadership in additive manufacturing or 3-D printing." NAMII plans to boost American manufacturing competitiveness through three key measures:
- Developing a collaborative network for sharing information and research between companies and educational institutions;
- Facilitating the development and application of efficient and flexible additive manufacturing technologies; and
- Educating students and training a highly skilled workforce that can adapt to the changing requirements of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes.