NNMI = Manufacturing USA = Awareness

27 Sep, 2016

The growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation now has a public name: Manufacturing USA.  Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced the name and unveiled a logo and website in her keynote address opening IMTS.

Mike Molnar, director of Manufacturing USA national program office (and a past president of SME) discussed the significance of the name with SME , explaining NNMI has a memorable alternative name and a new logo. He also explained why the step was taken.

“The significance,” Molnar said, “is that for the first time the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program has a public facing brand name. The program is the collective sum of all institutes along with a supporting network”. He added that the official name remains the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, but with any long name people used an acronym.  “Aside from the fact that NNMI is a bit difficult to pronounce, acronyms are not helpful in explaining what this public/private partnership is all about.”

Why now?  Molnar explained it is because of Congressional support.  “Congress authorized this program under the strongly bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014.  In 2016 they appropriated funds for the first time to support the program and establish the network.  Accordingly, Manufacturing USA is the public name of this network, creating a strong public identity for the program.”

Seven More Institutes on the Way

The American people have seen the program grow from an initial pilot institute to now eight active institutes with a ninth about to be launched and six more in the pipeline. Molnar was asked if after four years there is enough awareness of the public-private program. “For U.S. manufacturers who are involved, there’s fairly good awareness of individual institutes. This network function however is new, so few have awareness of the overall program.

Molnar explained that while the public may be aware America Makes is an institute doing remarkable work in 3D printing, few are aware of their collaboration with sister institutes on Digital manufacturing and Composites manufacturing.  “Engineering is a team sport, and we needed a name to describe the network.”

The program was proposed in 2012 by President Barak Obama who called for an initial network of 15 institutes. The following year the President held out a vision of a mature network of 45 institutes in 10 years.  With the competitions underway 15 institutes are planned by 2017.

For the upcoming institutes, two additional are being sponsored by the Department of Defense, two by the Department of Energy, and up to two by the Department of Commerce, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “The NIST competition is new for 2016, using the special authorities Congress authorized for “open topic” institutes.”  All institutes focus on technologies of importance to U.S. manufactures.  “The NIST competition is open to any topic proposed by industry, which is complementary to topics of interest from the Department of Defense and Energy”.

“It’s a great start that two-thirds of the top 50 manufacturing organizations are members of Manufacturing USA,” said Molnar. “We hope that the branding will enable greater communication and outreach” for the individual institutes and the entire Manufacturing USA program.

The public facing website was also announced at IMTS.  “Today this is going to an updated site, which is our federal portal for advanced manufacturing programs” said Molnar. “Our interagency team is working hard to launch has a completely new website aiming to be ready by National Manufacturing Day, October 7th”.  Why a dot com?  “Manufacturing USA is a public-private partnership with non-federal funding at greater than a 2:1 match to the federal.  Each institute is owned and operated by an industry-led consortium. It seemed most appropriate that the program website be”

The Eight Established Innovation Institutes

·         America Makes: The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute

America Makes focuses on helping the United States grow capabilities and strength in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing.

·         Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII)

The DMDII is the nation’s flagship research institute for applying cutting-edge digital technologies to reduce the time and cost of manufacturing, strengthen the capabilities of the US supply chain and reduce acquisition costs for the Department of Defense.

·         LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow

The center will speed development of new lightweight metal manufacturing processes from laboratories to factories for products using lightweight metal, including aluminum, magnesium, titanium and advanced high-strength steel alloys. An equally important mission is to facilitate the training of the workers who will use these new processes in factories and maintenance facilitates around the country.

·         PowerAmerica

The mission of PowerAmerica is to develop advanced manufacturing processes that will enable large-scale production of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, which allow electronic components to be smaller, faster and more efficient than semiconductors made from silicon.

·         The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)

Researchers at IACMI will work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for advanced composites.

·         American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics)

The Institute’s goal is to emulate the dramatic successes experienced by the electronics industry over the past 40 years and transition key lessons, processes, and approaches to the photonic integrated circuit (PIC) industry.

·         NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute

This Institute is focused on developing a new era in flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing by catalyzing the US flexible hybrid electronics ecosystem to commercialize technology through investments in FHE materials scale-up, thinned device processing, device/sensor integrated printing and packaging, system design tools, and reliability testing and modeling.

·         Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA)

AFFOA will accelerate widespread commercialization of highly functional fabrics. AFFOA is built on a simple premise: functional fabrics necessitate deep fiber innovation and predictive manufacturing.