Michigan-based Automation Alley poised to run the world’s largest emergency response network capable of producing physical objects on demand
WATERTOWN, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Markforged, creator of the world’s largest metal and carbon fiber additive manufacturing platform, the Digital Forge, today announced that it has distributed its first wave of 3D printers to manufacturers in Michigan as part of Project DIAMOnD. An initiative created by Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, Project DIAMOnD is dedicated to improving manufacturers’ agility and resiliency by helping them scale up their Industry 4.0 activity. More than 200 manufacturers have already received their printers and are ready to print personal protective equipment (PPE) when called upon to do so. In the meantime, they can also use the printers for creating parts critical to serving and growing their manufacturing operations.
Project DIAMOnD will enable small and mid-sized Michigan manufacturers to print PPE, filling a critical gap in the medical supply chain during the continued fight against COVID-19. Each individual printer connects to a centralized, blockchain-enabled cloud, operated by Automation Alley. The project is poised to become the world’s largest emergency response network for printing physical objects on demand. The project will also create supply chain resiliency and flexibility by presenting an opportunity for the participating manufacturers to print the parts they might need to keep their lines operational and versatile in the face of future disruption. Automation Alley selected Markforged’s 3D printing platform to meet these goals, along with Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology. Project DIAMOnD is powered by a grant Automation Alley received from Oakland County and Macomb County, allowing for 300 applicants to receive Markforged printers.
“There is boundless potential for 3D printing and it’s starting to unfold in Michigan,” said Tom Kelly, Executive Director and CEO of Automation Alley. “With Project DIAMOnD, manufacturers in Michigan are setting the pace for what’s possible. At Automation Alley, we’re eager to direct this initiative and measure the impact it has on the production of healthcare equipment as well as other parts critical to the supply chain across multiple industries.”
A variety of manufacturers in Michigan have applied to participate in Project DIAMOnD, including Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. The participants include HERCO Group, a diecast mold and equipment solutions provider; Accufacture, an automation manufacturing company; and Custom Valve Concepts (CVC), a liquid and gas product manufacturer for brands like Nestle, GE, Citgo and PepsiCo.
“Additive manufacturing was always on our minds,” said Michael Tor, Associate Engineer at CVC. “After receiving this grant and talking with Markforged, that’s when our eyes just started opening up.” The company plans to use the printer to support local frontline workers who need access to PPE, as well as for tooling and fixtures. “I used to look at the local news and see these amazing stories of everyday people, not necessarily engineers, helping out. Now we get to do the same. This project provides an avenue for Custom Valve Concepts to utilize its abilities to help those in our community and has helped kickstart our goal of introducing additive manufacturing into the company,” says Tor.
“Project DIAMOnD and the participating manufacturers are bringing the true promise of the Digital Forge to life,” said Michael Kelly, Director of Print System Engineering at Markforged. “Traditionally, governments have maintained special networks dedicated to the distribution of information and goods during emergencies, but this will be the first response network capable of actually manufacturing tangible parts and objects on demand as needs arise. From printing PPE to enabling mass supply chain resiliency, this initiative is showcasing the power of a cloud-connected, digital 3D printing network. Our hope is that, through our contributions, manufacturers can find unique, effective ways to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts and continue innovating with our printers for years to come.”
More information on Project DIAMOnD can be found on Automation Alley’s website.
Markforged transforms manufacturing with 3D metal and carbon fiber printers, capable of producing parts tough enough for the factory floor. Engineers, designers, and manufacturing professionals all over the world rely on Markforged metal and composite printers for tooling, fixtures, functional prototyping, and high-value end-use production. Founded in 2013 and based in Watertown, Massachusetts, Markforged has about 300 employees globally, with $137 million in both strategic and venture capital. Markforged was recently recognized by Forbes in the Next Billion-Dollar Startups list and listed as the #2 fastest-growing hardware company in the US in the 2019 Deloitte Fast 500. To learn more about Markforged, please visit: https://markforged.com.
About Automation Alley
Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan’s economy and accelerate innovation. Our programs give businesses a competitive advantage by helping them along every step of their digital transformation journey. We obsess over disruptive technologies like AI, the Internet of Things and automation, and work hard to make these complex concepts easier for companies to understand and implement. The mission of Automation Alley is to help businesses stay in business by equipping them with the necessary knowledge to leverage the intersections of advanced technologies, systems and people to jumpstart or accelerate a digital path to strategic success. Visit automationalley.com to learn more.
V2 Communications for Markforged
Communications for Automation Alley