GE Additive and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the US state of Indiana’s lead economic development agency, have formed a metal Binder Jetting (BJT) public-private partnership as part of a broader effort to further position Indiana’s manufacturing sector for long-term growth.
Indiana is home to 8,500 manufacturing facilities and its residents are said to be employed in the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the nation. With more than 500 automotive suppliers and five original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies, Indiana supports the second-largest automotive sector by GDP in the US, producing more than 1.3 million cars and light trucks annually.
GE Additive states that its binder jet beta partner programme now comprises six global technology and automotive sector companies who are working with GE Additive to commercialise its binder jet technology.
“We’re excited by the opportunity presented to us by IEDC,” stated Christine Furstoss, GE Additive Chief Technology Officer. “Binder Jet is one of the most dynamic areas within additive manufacturing today, and one that the automotive and mobility industry, in particular, is watching closely.”
She added, “Given Indiana’s strong automotive manufacturing focus, we have high hopes that this partnership will tap into its abundant seam of innovation and spark new forward-thinking applications – especially in the field of automation and software development.”
Josh Mook, GE Additive Innovation Leader, commented, “Collaboration with industry sits at the very core of our strategy. We deliberately set out to identify a select group of strategic partners that could help us develop a real-world solution. It’s critically important that when we bring our solution to market next year it can deliver value from day one.”
Mook continued, “Our beta partnership programme is already paying dividends in many ways. Now, we’re now looking to extend that industry collaboration. Through the R&D partnership with IEDC we will create a testbed to work with partners, customers, startups, and SMEs in Indiana and further afield to develop additive-centric innovation and real-world solutions.”
The IEDC board of directors recently approved $3 million under its Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement initiative to establish the new Emerging Manufacturing Collaboration Center (EMC2). This facility will reportedly provide a physical space where state-of-the-art equipment will be available to new and existing Indiana manufacturers to train employees, perform contract manufacturing and raise awareness of new products and software.
A vacant building in the 16 Tech Innovation District, a campus community focused on bringing together entrepreneurs, academics, startups, corporations and creatives, has been identified as the location for the partnership and will be refurbished to house EMC2,an Emerging Manufacturing Collaboration Center, and a mix of other commercial tenants by summer 2021.
EMC2 is said to allow new and existing manufacturers to utilise state-of-the-art equipment, including GE Additive’s binder jet technology, to train employees, conduct third-party pilot manufacturing and increase awareness of products and software applications.
GE Additive explains that it will work closely with the IEDC to invest in binder jet and software technology, as well as driving innovation in key industry supply chains. GE Additive will also reportedly make use of the new EMC2 as a physical focal point for the initiative.
Mook further added, “With our binder jet solution we have created a highly capable, expandable system. We will use this partnership with the IEDC to build a broad, flexible, factory ecosystem to cover powder to part, including the recycling chain. Our system is able to support the wide range of companies that we will participate in the ecosystem and we have designed it to be easily plugged into.”
Jim Schellinger, Indiana Secretary of Commerce, reported, “Every day, Indiana manufacturers are developing safe, reliable and innovative products that help power the world.”
“As new trends and technologies change the state of today’s manufacturing industry, Indiana is focused on partnering with forward-thinking organisations like GE Additive and advancing strategic initiatives to propel long-term growth in manufacturing and equip Hoosiers with the industry-focused skills and training needed for the future.”
GE Additive and the IEDC will host a virtual industry day on December 8, 2020, to kick-off the initiative, and to elaborate on potential projects that ensure broad technology and economic benefit to Indiana and wider U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.
Participants of the virtual event will hear from binder jet experts, observe the latest demos of GE Additive’s Binder Jet technology and participate in technical workshops with GE Additive’s team of experts and external sector specialists.