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NewsDesk: Illinois and Michigan Win Manufacturing Hubs


President Barack Obama announced on Feb. 25 that the next two manufacturing hubs in the growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation will go to Chicago and Metro Detroit.

That brings the total of announced manufacturing hubs to four, and the President also launched a competition for a fifth new innovation institute to build strength in manufacturing advanced composites. The White House said eight hubs in all are to be launched by year’s end.

The Chicago consortium of businesses and universities will focus on digital manufacturing and design technologies. It will be called the Digital Lab for Manufacturing, according to UI LABS, which is leading the consortium.

The Detroit-area consortium of businesses and universities will focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing. It will be called the LM3I—short for Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation—Institute.

The latest institutes join two other hubs already in progress: The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute in Raleigh, NC, which will focus on advanced semiconductor technology, and America Makes in Youngstown, OH. That pilot institute, originally known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, or NAMII, is focused on additive manufacturing, commonly referred to as 3D printing.

US Manufacturing Hubs

These efforts are part of Obama’s broader vision for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) that strengthens US industry. He first proposed the network in March 2012 and renewed calls for it in his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses.

Under his vision, the full network, which requires legislation from Congress, would be developed over a decade and consist of up to 45 regional hubs of public-private partnership. Each would develop specific manufacturing technologies, skilled workers and spin-off businesses. 

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is supported by a 2012 report, “Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing.”

The White House said the institutes are also key in keeping manufacturing on its current path of growth. According to the latest job figures, the US economy has added 622,000 manufacturing jobs since early 2010, including more than 80,000 over the past four months. In fact, manufacturing production is now growing at its fastest pace in over a decade.

SME Plays Key Role in Hubs

One of the manufacturing industry’s trusted sources of knowledge and information, SME will continue to play a role in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.

SME, which helped get the Youngstown, OH, pilot institute off the ground, will continue to offer workforce development support to the network, specifically the Digital Lab. 
Dean Bartles
Dean Bartles, SME vice president and a member of the SME College of Fellows, has been selected to be the executive director of the Digital Lab. Currently vice president at General Dynamics, Bartles has elected to take an early retirement to assume this newly created position at UI Labs, which is leading the consortium, to develop and demonstrate digital manufacturing technologies and deploy and commercialize these technologies across key manufacturing industries. SME also plans to play a significant part in workforce development for the new Digital Lab, dedicating one staff member to the effort. 

“SME is proud to be a partner in the Digital Lab and to contribute to the development of a skilled workforce ready to work in a digital environment,” said Debbie Holton, SME managing director of industry strategy and events. “The ability of industry, government and researchers to collaborate—especially providing advanced manufacturing capabilities to small- and medium-sized manufacturers—will accelerate the invention, design and manufacture of new technologies and processes.” 


Manufacturing Growth Continues

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the ninth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 57th consecutive month, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business released on March 3.

The February PMI registered 53.2%, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from January’s reading of 51.3%—indicating expansion in manufacturing for the ninth consecutive month.

The ISM report is based on a survey of purchasing and supply executives, and readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion.

Source: Institute for Supply Management

Comments from those surveyed “reflect optimism in terms of demand and growth in the near term,” although many said that cold weather had dampened business in February, said Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. For more information, visit ME


Openings & Expansions

ABB (Zurich, Switzerland), the leading power and automation technology group, has opened its fifth factory in Brazil. The new plant is part of a $200-million investment to expand ABB’s technology development and production capacity to serve increasing domestic demand from industries such as petrochemicals, pulp and paper, oil and gas, and mining, as well as energy.

Methods Machine Tools Inc. (Sudbury, MA), a supplier of precision machine tools, automation, and accessories, will hold a grand opening event at its new San Francisco-area technology center May 14 and 15.  The 10,280-ft2 (955-m2) facility at 650 Whitney, San Leandro, was established to support manufacturing in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. The event will feature technical seminars as well as demonstrations of automation solutions.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Waukesha Metal Products (Sussex, WI), an international metalforming supplier, on Feb. 3 announced it has finalized the acquisition of Revstone Fabrication San Luis Potosí S de RL de CV, located in San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico. The acquisition expands Waukesha’s footprint in the NAFTA region, and offers logistics solutions to current customers with locations in Mexico. Waukesha Metal Products de México will also provide much-needed capacity, allowing continued growth in their US operations.

Private equity firm Irving Place Capital (IPC; New York) and Victor Technologies (St. Louis) on Feb. 12 announced that they have entered into an agreement to sell Victor to Colfax Corporation (“Colfax”, NYSE: CFX), a global manufacturer of gas- and fluid-handling and fabrication technology products. The all-cash transaction values Victor at approximately $947 million, including the assumption of debt, and is subject to customary closing conditions. Victor is a leading designer and manufacturer of a comprehensive suite of metal cutting, gas control, and specialty welding products. IPC acquired Victor, which was previously named Thermadyne Holdings Corporation, in a take-private transaction in December 2010.


The National Association for Surface Finishing (Washington, DC; NASF) on Feb. 19 announced the release of Advanced Surface Technology. The book is regarded as a comprehensive up-to-date reference for a wide range of coating and finishing applications. For more information, visit

C&M Technologies (Wauregan, CT), a leading supplier of wire and cable products for military, industrial and medical systems, has launched a new website,


Mazak (Florence, KY) invites aerospace, medical and other part manufacturers to its DISCOVER MORE WITH MAZAK Technology and Education Event, taking place 9 am to 7 pm May 6–7 at the company’s Northeast Technology Center in Windsor Locks, CT. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn new machining techniques for boosting productivity and profitability. The company will also host a special student day on May 8 to promote lucrative, high-tech careers within the manufacturing industry.  

Workforce Development

Siemens (Plano, TX) on Feb. 19 announced a $66.8 million in-kind software grant to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Students there will now have access to the same Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software used throughout the global manufacturing industry to design, develop and manufacture some of the world’s most sophisticated products.


INDEX Corp. (Noblesville, IN), a global leader in precision turning technology, will host an open house to mark the 100th anniversary of INDEX-Werke, its parent in Esslingen, Germany, and the subsidiary TRAUB’s 75th anniversary. The event will be held from 10 am to 8:30 pm on April 8 and from 10 am to 5 pm from April 9 to 11. All members of the manufacturing community are welcome. The event will occur the week of the Precision Machined Parts Association Technical Conference in Indianapolis.

Jet Edge Inc., a leading manufacturer of ultra-high pressure waterjet technology, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.

NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to


This article was first published in the April 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 4/1/2014

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