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Michigan Announces Innovation Center to Accelerate Manufacturing Across State

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ANN ARBOR — The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences Tuesday announced a collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to establish the first advanced manufacturing laboratory in what will be a national network to accelerate manufacturing by providing easy access to digital modeling and simulation tools.

GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Van Buren Township will house the innovation center.

At the laboratory, scheduled to open early next year, Michigan companies will provide manufacturers that a virtualized approach to manufacturing that combines high performance modeling, simulation and analysis, data mining tools, and digital precision in processes to optimize speed, reliability and efficiency.

“When you talk about creating jobs and growing the economy in Michigan, these are the kind of long-range opportunities that will really make a difference,” said Rick Jarman, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor-based NCMS. “With the help of this center, small- and mid-size manufacturers will be able to deliver solutions faster, and expand their supplier reach to large companies. It is incredible to imagine the hundreds of small companies in Michigan that will have the potential to grow as a result of this premier facility.”

L&L Products, a Romeo-based custom chemical compounding company serving the automotive and aerospace industries, is a good example of the kind of companies the center will be designed to help.

“Ten years ago, L&L bought our own simulation software and our own high performance computing cluster, ” said Steve Reagan, computational modeling manager at the company. “It was a huge gamble, with an enormous cost. But today you can trace half of our company’s profit back to those tools. We have nearly doubled in size and revenue because of them. Still, that kind of investment is impossible for most small companies… If I could pay for what I need, as I need it, that would be very appealing to a company like mine.”

MEDC has provided a grant for the creation of the center, which is matched with industry support from NCMS members.

NCMS staff didn’t yet have details on the amount of the grant or the exact size and resources of the new center.

NCMS has more than 25 years of experience in the formation and management of complex, multi-partner collaborative R&D programs, and is backed by corporate members representing virtually every manufacturing sector.  For more information on NCMS, visit www.ncms.org.

NCMS rolled out its plan to revitalize American manufacturing in 2011, forming the Digital Manufacturing Strategic Interest Group (DM SIG), a collaboration of hardware and software providers, industry, and academia, collectively advising development of a national grid for manufacturers, a physical and virtual collaborative environment to drive adoption of essential 21st century tools. For more information on NCMS’ digital manufacturing initiative visit www.ncms.org/index.php/programs/digital-manufacturing-initiative.

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