what is the iML?

The Illinois Manufacturing Lab (IML) is a partnership between UI LABS and the University of Illinois that helps equip Illinois small and medium-sized manufacturers for the new realities of the changing manufacturing sector. The IML provides advanced manufacturing solutions to the Illinois manufacturing sector to increase its competitiveness, productivity, and profitability.


Case Studies

IML case studies outline the problem addressed in a project, its solution, the estimated and actual project impact, return on investment, and ultimate project outcome.

Tek Pak Inc.
Tek Pak machines thermoform molds, and the company sought to improve its machining process. The sample machining operation provided was an aluminum mold that had taken approximately 125 hours to machine. Tel Pak sought to reduce the machining time and estimated a 15 percent reduction through this project; the resulting impact far exceeded that initial estimate.

Read the Tek Pak case study.

Atlas Tool Works
Atlas Tool Works maintains a careful balance between quality and cost containment by continually investing in new technologies to increase productivity. While experiencing double-digit revenue growth in recent years, they have run into capacity issues. In order to meet their stringent on-time delivery rating, they needed to decrease the machining cycle times on a complex supply program where delivery was critical to their customer. 

Read the Atlas Tool Works case study.

recent project focus areas

Tool Path Optimization

Efficient manufacturing processes are needed to keep costs competitive and fulfill orders.  Waste in the tool path process costs a company both time and capital due to cost of machine utilization time and excessive tool wear. Advances in Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technology and software allow for rapid analysis of machine data to optimize tool paths and increase efficiency.  

IML identified relevant use cases to demonstrate a new Advanced Manufacturing concept. This concept, currently in development, aims to significantly reduce the cost of conducting a tool path optimization effort on an existing production line through the use of an online template available on the Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC).

Modeling & Simulation

Companies face a major financial decision when considering the redesign of an existing product or investment in a future product’s conceptual design. Modeling & Simulation technologies allow for faster and less costly evaluations of the performance, manufacturing processes, and other factors associated with producing the individual design.

IML sought companies that have existing products, manufacturing processes, or new design concepts that would directly benefit from the application of advanced Modeling & Simulation technology.