Markforged, Watertown, Massachusetts, USA, has distributed its first wave of Additive Manufacturing machines to manufacturers in Michigan, USA, as part of Project Distributed, Independent, Agile, Manufacturing On-Demand (DIAMOnD), an initiative created by Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge centre. In addition to Mark Two AM machines, several local manufacturers also received Markforged’s Metal X system as part of the project.
Project DIAMOnD aims to improve manufacturers’ agility and resiliency by helping them to scale up their Industry 4.0 activity. More than 200 manufacturers have already received their AM machines and are ready to produce 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-based manufacturers to additively manufacture PPE, filling a critical gap in the medical supply chain during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Each individual AM machine connects to a centralised, blockchain-enabled cloud, operated by Automation Alley.
The project is anticipated to become the world’s largest emergency response network for producing physical objects on demand. The project will also create supply chain resiliency and flexibility by presenting an opportunity for the participating manufacturers to additively manufacture the parts they might need to keep their lines operational and versatile in the face of future disruption
Automation Alley selected Markforged’s AM platform to meet these goals, along with Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology. Project DIAMOnD is funded by a grant Automation Alley received from Oakland County and Macomb County, both in Michigan, allowing for 300 applicants to receive Markforged AM machines.
“There is boundless potential for 3D printing and it’s starting to unfold in Michigan,” stated 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.”
Michael Kelly, Director of Print System Engineering at Markforged, commented, “Project DIAMOnD and the participating manufacturers are bringing the true promise of the Digital Forge to life. 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,” Kelly concluded.