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 News Article

Kendall Visits TechShop for National Manufacturing Day

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2014 – The Defense Department’s top acquisitions official today toured a TechShop in Arlington, Virginia, one of several membership-based, do-it-yourself workshops and fabrication studios that partners with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Department of Veterans Affairs to promote technology and manufacturing innovation.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
On Oct. 3, 2014, the same day President Barack Obama proclaimed National Manufacturing Day, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, toured the TechShop facility in Arlington, Va. TechShop, with eight locations nationwide, provides access to more than $1 million worth of professional equipment and software to members who join by the month or by the day. Through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation and General Electric, TechShop offers veterans of all eras a limited number of free one-year memberships and $350 worth of training. DoD photo by Cheryl Pellerin
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

DARPA and the VA launched their collaboration in 2012 in part to provide a space for innovators to access the industrial tools, training and equipment needed to pursue their own unique ideas and inventions without the need for affiliation with a large manufacturer.

“It’s National Manufacturing Day and it's really great to see the innovation here -- it’s a terrific facility,” said Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, during his tour.

Manufacturing-technology connection

“I'd like to find ways for us to take more advantage of things like this,” he added. “There's a strong connection between the ability to manufacture products and the technology base and the engineering side of what we do [at the DoD].”

TechShop, with eight locations nationwide, provides access to more than $1 million worth of professional equipment and software to members, who can join by the month or by the day.

Through a partnership with the VA’s Center for Innovation and General Electric, TechShop offers veterans of all eras a limited number of free one-year memberships and $350 worth of training.

Each facility includes laser cutters, plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a metal working shop, a textiles department, welding stations and a water jet cutter.

Members have open access to design software, featuring the entire Autodesk Design Suite, and large project areas and work tables are available for completing projects and collaborating with others.

National Manufacturing Day

In a statement proclaiming Oct. 3 National Manufacturing Day, President Barack Obama said that, with ingenuity and a determined spirit, hardworking Americans are creating products and unlocking new technologies that will shape the nation and grow its economy.

“Ensuring that America is at the forefront of 21st century manufacturing requires research, investment and a workforce with high-tech skills,” the president wrote.

“That is why my administration is investing in regional manufacturing hubs that bring together private industry, leading universities and public agencies to solve technology challenges too significant for any one firm,” Obama added.

Manufacturing hubs

The president called these manufacturing hubs -- with more to be built in the future -- the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The aim is to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.

Today, after his tour, Kendall likened the TechShop idea to the Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation, or IMIs, announced beginning in February.

At that time Obama announced the establishment of two new institutes and launched a competition for a new manufacturing innovation institute to build U.S. strength in manufacturing advanced composites. It was the first of four new competitions to be launched this year.

Specific areas of technology

Kendall said the IMIs are focused on specific areas of technology, like three-dimensional printing.

“They’re similar in a way, in that they give people an opportunity to come in, develop products, develop technology -- manufacturing technology in particular -- that then can get wider use,” he said.

The pilot project, launched in August 2012, was the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Additive manufacturing is often called 3-D printing.

NAMII, headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, is a consortium of manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and nonprofit organizations mainly from the Ohio-Pennsylvania-West Virginia technology belt.

DoD collaboration with universities, businesses

The next two institutes announced are led by the Defense Department and supported by a $140 million federal commitment combined with more than $140 million in nonfederal resources.

One is a Detroit-area-headquartered consortium of businesses and universities that focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing. The second is a Chicago-headquartered consortium of businesses and universities focusing on digital manufacturing and design technologies.

“We’ve had great success with the first one, which was 3-D printing. That’s still growing [and] doing well,” Kendall said. “We started two more -- lightweight metals and digital manufacturing -- and they're both off to a pretty good start.”

Today, Kendall added, the president announced a competition to create another IMI that will focus on photonics, or the science and engineering applications of light.

“We're still researching which one to do after that,” the acquisition chief said. “But we're very excited about the prospect of all these institutes.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)

Contact Author

Biographies:
Frank Kendall

Related Sites:
Presidential Proclamation -- National Manufacturing Day, 2014
TechShop
National Network for Manufacturing Innovation



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