CHICAGO - (July 21, 2015) - The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a UI LABS collaboration, today announced the public kickoff of its open source software project, the Digital Manufacturing Commons, DMDII-15-16. The Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC) is a software platform that can be used to share and access manufacturing data and analysis tools. The project has the potential to generate millions of dollars of savings for small, medium and large manufacturers by democratizing the flow of innovative digital manufacturing data.

DMDII announced the availability of up to $2 million in project funding to develop open software applications that can interact with the Digital Manufacturing Commons. This funding is available to teams, entrepreneurs and technologists proposing innovative ideas for manufacturing software solutions.

Digital design and manufacturing is the use of computing, data analysis, and networking technologies in factories and across the lifecycle of manufactured products. Digital manufacturing is often referred to as “smart manufacturing” or “Industrie 4.0.”

The public kickoff is an open workshop on September 23 at UI LABS headquarters in Chicago. Workshop participants will learn about the technology behind the Digital Manufacturing Commons and will be introduced to the DMC software development kit. DMDII plans to fund about 20 project teams who will develop open source software applications beginning in January 2016. Proposals are due in November and projects are expected to last about one year, generating software applications that benefit manufacturing businesses.

The Digital Manufacturing Commons is a joint project between DMDII at UI LABS in Chicago and GE Global Research. The project is led by Dr. Joe Salvo, manager of the Complex Systems Laboratory at GE Global Research.

“The widespread availability of design and modeling tools will encourage a new wave of innovation and creativity as the number of people who participate in the marketplace increases,” said Salvo. “We believe that the unprecedented access to powerful software tools, models and the means of production will serve to democratize the entire manufacturing process.”

DMDII is developing this system as an open source software project. Dr. Salvo explains the rationale behind this approach: “Delivering the digital market commons as an open source package will encourage standardization, interoperability and security. The community of users will be able to determine the right features and functions to develop in an ad hoc fashion that encourages experimentation and exploration.”

The latest updates about the Digital Manufacturing Commons can be found at the DMC project website:

A major goal of DMDII is to democratize American manufacturing by enabling and empowering small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals to design and manufacture products. The Digital Manufacturing Commons will enable digital collaboration among distributed teams to reduce the barriers for securely sharing data and digital information and to connect people and data with digital analysis tools.

“With the issuing of this Call for Proposal DMDII is taking a substantial step in the creation of the system to support the future of digital manufacturing in the U.S.,” states Gregory A. Harris, Ph.D., P.E., Program Manager for DMDII, U.S. Army, Aviation & Missile Research, Development & Engineering Center. “The opportunities the DMC will create for small and medium sized manufacturers to engage at all levels of the supply chain will be significant.”

“Online collaboration between designers and makers creates significant value for manufacturing businesses, by reducing product development costs and increasing speed of bringing new products to market,” said William P. King the chief technology officer at DMDII and the Andersen Chair in Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “The Digital Manufacturing Commons will enable manufacturing businesses, entrepreneurs and technologists to become more digitally connected and more digitally capable.”

“The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute at UI LABS is extremely excited to be able to partner with GE and the U.S. Government to help American manufacturing businesses,” said Dr. Dean Bartles, the chief manufacturing officer at UI LABS and executive director of DMDII. “This is a national effort to digitize American manufacturing. This initiative to build a platform to more easily share the profusion of data generated by manufacturing is already one of the largest of its kind, and we continue to be joined by more partners every day.”

Complete information about the call for proposals, proposal submission requirements, and workshop logistics are available by visiting the DMDII website (




UI LABS solves large-scale industrial challenges by forming consortia of university, industry, and civic partners who innovate and commercialize new technology solutions. UI LABS is developing a portfolio of applied research and commercialization programs that lead to a return on investment for its partners and improve local, regional and national competitiveness.

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) is UI LABS’ first program. DMDII is revitalizing American manufacturing, by helping U.S. manufacturers to harness data to make their products better, faster, and more cost competitive. Learn more at www.uilabs.organd