The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded $10 million in funding this year and is pledging at least $20 million more over the next five years to drive the digital future of manufacturing. This award is part of a multi-year, follow-on agreement with a ceiling of $60 million of government funding.
DMDII’s mission is to enable U.S. manufacturers to make every part better than the last. That requires production lines to be embedded with software and sensors that connect to the Internet. Only with this ability to send and receive data can the equipment improve itself and learn from every part produced in real time.
It is a goal far too big for any one company to solve on its own, which is why the Institute has attracted more than 300 partners, including Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, and McKinsey & Company.
Since its founding in 2014, DMDII has invested approximately $90 million in more than 60 applied research projects nationwide. DMDII is facilitating factory worker training using augmented reality, updating legacy machines for the digital age, and reducing error and scrap in high-value parts.
In one high-impact project, Lockheed Martin partnered with Siemens, Rochester Institute of Technology and printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and designers to digitize the production process. While PCBs have seen exponential decreases in size and increases in performance, the methods of transferring production data on them remain cumbersome and error-prone. This effort is paving the way for reshoring in the PCB industry.
Another example is DMDII’s collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Rock Island Arsenal, the nation’s largest government-owned weapons manufacturer. With the aim of getting equipment to U.S. warfighters faster, the arsenal and DMDII have used 3-D modeling to assess the arsenal’s manufacturing processes.