Contract R&D services speed innovation for startups, academic researchers, small manufacturers
The Digital Manufacturing Design and Innovation Institute (DMDII) is opening its floor to manufacturers and academic institutions needing to quickly test process improvements, it told the press today.
“We are seeing a manufacturing renaissance in Chicago and the Digital Manufacturing Design and Innovation Institute is adding to that momentum,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in prepared remarks. “By opening their doors, sharing equipment and providing expertise to small businesses, startups and students, DMDII is ensuring Chicago’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem will be stronger for generations to come.”
DMDII is sharing not only its advanced manufacturing equipment but also its technical expertise to support innovation.
DMDII’s R&D test bed eliminates a manufacturer’s need to buy testing equipment and give up production capacity for experimentation.
For example, when engineers discover a potential operational improvement, such as a new turning technique or tool design, they must test it in a real-world environment and collect the data. Since manufacturing equipment and production downtime is expensive, R&D engineers often wait months for internal equipment to become available.
Now academic and commercial institutions can utilize DMDII’s equipment at its Goose Island facility in Chicago for as long as several months, with the option of receiving additional support from DMDII’s technical team, led by 28-year manufacturing veteran, Tony Del Sesto. This test bed is open to DMDII members and non-members, and the cost varies based on usage and need.
Del Sesto’s team includes mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, systems integration engineering, manufacturing engineering, machinist, and assembly specialists.
One of DMDII’s manufacturing partners, Rolls-Royce, utilized DMDII’s facility to test three new manufacturing tools and processes. Testing took less than a week when it would have taken more than three months had it been done internally. The innovations are already being implemented in their operations.
“We’re alleviating a bottleneck in the manufacturing R&D process. Helping companies validate a new technology in 6 days when it could otherwise take 6 months speaks to what digital manufacturing and DMDII is all about,” UI LABS Chief Program Officer Thomas McDermott said in prepared remarks.