Research and development testing is getting more accessible for Chicago startups, researchers and other local businesses.
The Digital Manufacturing Design and Innovation Institute (DMDII), part of UI Labs, announced Wednesday that it is opening its manufacturing floor to companies and universities that want to conduct tests in real time.
The goal is to help manufacturers test process improvements without having to stop their own production lines or buy expensive testing equipment of their own.
“We’re alleviating a bottleneck in the manufacturing R&D process,” UI LABS Chief Program Officer Thomas McDermott said in a statement. “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.”
Companies can conduct tests that last up to several months, DMDII says, and staff are on site to assist users with whatever they need. Specialists include experts in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, systems integration engineering, manufacturing engineering, machinist, and assembly specialists. The cost to use the equipment varies based on usage and need, DMDII says.
Among the companies using DMDII’s facilities is Rolls-Royce, which is testing three new manufacturing tools and processes at the Goose Island building. The company said that testing at DMDII took less than a week, compared to the more than three months it would have taken had it been done internally.
“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 a statement. “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.”
The DMDII officially launched in 2015 and was founded through a collaboration with the Department of Defense and other organizations to transform American manufacturing.