The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) has been awarded $10 million in funding this year by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD is also pledging at least $20 million more over the next five years to drive the digital future of manufacturing. The award is part of a multi-year, follow-on agreement with a ceiling of $60 million of government funding.
DMDII’s stated mission is to enable U.S. manufacturers to make every part better than the last. According to the organization, that requires production lines to be embedded with software and sensors that connect to the Internet.
Which is why DMDII believes that it is a goal far too big for any one company to solve on its own. The Institute has brought together more than 300 partners, including Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce, Siemens and McKinsey & Company in service of this singular goal.
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 project, Lockheed Martin partnered with Siemens, Rochester Institute of Technology and printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and designers to digitize the production process. This effort is paving the way for reshoring in the PCB industry and aims to improve methods of transferring production data
"Digital transformation is about reimagining the process by which we, as a community, turn ideas into solutions," said Jeff Wilcox, vice president of digital transformation at Lockheed Martin. "DMDII has created a model that makes it easy to partner in a collaborative ecosystem that enhances our nation’s manufacturing competitiveness."
Previously, DMDII also collaborated 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 3D modeling to assess the arsenal’s manufacturing processes.
"American manufacturing must remain competitive since it underpins national and economic security," said Tracy Frost, the Pentagon’s director of the DoD Manufacturing Institutes and its Manufacturing Technology program. "The advanced manufacturing technology solutions being pioneered at DMDII strengthen the U.S. industrial base and supply chain resiliency to support our warfighters, and the Department of Defense is excited to continue to partner with the institute and watch it grow."