Demonstrating Advanced Manufacturing in the U.S. Capital
By Malcolm Thompson
On October 10th the U.S. House and Senate Manufacturing Caucus hosted a Congressional Briefing and Expo in the Rayburn Building entitled, Manufacturing USA®: Securing U.S. Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing. The event highlighted results achieved to date by the 14 Manufacturing USA institutes in technology innovation and advanced manufacturing workforce development through two informative panel discussions followed by a mixer and a showcase of technology demonstrator displays. NextFlex was pleased to host member participation from GE Global Research, Boeing and DuPont each of whom helped us describe our transformative applications for flexible hybrid electronics to the audience of elected officials and Congressional staffers.
During the first panel moderated by Mike Molnar from the Manufacturing USA Program Office, leaders from three industrial sectors — high power electronics, machine tools, and healthcare — described how the institutes create research collaborations that enable companies and partners to produce innovative products in the U.S.
John Palmour, CTO and founder of CREE, said that they joined PowerAmerica (wide bandgap semiconductors) because the institute helps de-risk technology innovation in ways that companies can’t support on their own because true market viability is years away.
GE Global Research’s David Davenport presented on the partnership with NextFlex (flexible hybrid electronics) that improves patient care by creating comfortable, wearable medical devices for continuous patient monitoring. He described how NextFlex enables collaborative development of this technology which promises to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs by allowing patients’ health to be monitored from home rather than in the hospital.
Gary Neidig, President and CEO of Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO), concluded the panel with the story of how his family-run tool and die company became an advanced manufacturing company by leveraging relationships through Manufacturing USA that enabled them to connect and collaborate with other U.S. manufacturers.
The second panel moderated by Emily DeRocco of LIFT, featured various Institute approaches to workforce development programs that train and retrain existing workers and military veterans, as well as educate and train students to equip them with the skills needed for high-paying jobs in the modern manufacturing sector. Speakers Eric Burkland of the Ohio Manufacturers Association, Linda Cadwell-Stancin of Lockheed Martin, and Michael Moncada of 3D Veterans all shared a common vision that it is critical that we, as a nation, invest in solving the skilled worker shortage problem that faces many U.S. companies today. Bringing together economic development, workforce, government, industry, and academia to help solve the problem is a perfect role for the institutes and already great strides have been made in education and training touchpoints across all 14 Manufacturing USA institutes. These touchpoints are helping to orient students and workers to the education and career pathways available to them to be prepared for jobs in tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing sector.
After the briefings, close to 250 people gathered in the Rayburn Foyer to see some of the technology being developed by Manufacturing USA institutes and their partners. Highlights include:
- Virtual reality/augmented reality equipment from Vision Three that can be used to provide powerful new ways to train technicians and engineers (DMDII)
- Collaborative robot, YuMi®, from ABB that teaches people to use robots (ARM)
- Lightweight, thin, flexible version of the hugely popular Arduino® mini circuit board, Flexible Arduino (NextFlex)
- Digital technology from Covisus tiny surface features of an item to uniquely identify it from others of its kind to keep supply chains secure (DMDII)
- Photonic integrated chips (AIM Photonics)
- Flight suit with sensors to monitor vitals from DuPont (NextFlex)
- Video demonstration of modular chemical process intensification (RAPID)
- A connected enterprise case study on how General Mills implemented digital systems to ensure that their gluten free products were truly gluten free — from the harvest field, to shipment containers, to various storage containers, and finally to the manufacturing of Cheerios (CESMII)
- 3D printed parts and prosthetics (America Makes)
- Lightweight metal parts, and a coupler system, which LIFT engineers helped prototype, to deliver both air and fire suppressants to the end of the nozzle utilizing equipment firefighters are already trained on firehose. This plays a critical role in helping first responders save lives. (LIFT)
- Electrical fibers from that can be woven into cloth with LED lights that blink so fast that it’s imperceptible to our eyes, but an app can receive a secret message (AFFOA)
- Digital prototype of John Deere’s high-power inverter for hybrid motors in heavy duty construction vehicles and trucks that has higher efficiency and fewer heat-related breakdowns compared with traditional transformer-based inverters. (PowerAmerica)
To learn more about how Manufacturing USA institutes and their respective member companies are transforming people’s lives, improving economic and national security, and securing America’s future, visit https://www.manufacturingusa.com/institutes.
Dr. Malcolm J. Thompson
NextFlex Executive Director