May 22, 2015

DMDII, in collaboration with UI LABS and CityWorks, opened its doors to debut their state-of-the-art digital manufacturing lab and a cutting-edge work space housed within a 94,000-square-foot facility on Goose Island in Chicago.

A 24,000-square-foot glass-enclosed digital manufacturing lab contains seven dedicated manufacturing technology cells, which highlight multi-axis complex machining, standard machining, additive manufacturing integration, an environmentally-controlled metrology room, electronics, micro machining, robotic welding and fabrication. Each manufacturing cell will feature the latest in digital integration technologies, automation, robotics and communications.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Adele Ratcliff of the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defense, were among the many special guests. Attendees were given tours of the manufacturing lab to see first-hand the kinds of high-tech equipment that will be used to help change manufacturing in the United States. They even received souvenirs from machines that made DMDII keychains and aluminum golf balls.

During the morning press conference, Caralynn Nowinski, Executive Director of UI LABS, reflected back to 2011 when a few leaders came together to outline the original concept of UI LABS. They envisioned an independent organization that would serve as a platform for transformational change. “We set forth the goal and grand vision of driving innovation and collaboration that would solve some of the greatest challenges of the world,” recalled Nowinski.

Nowinski thanked partners such as the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the University of Illinois, and the U.S. Department of Defense, to name a few, for their contributions in turning the concept of UI LABS into a reality.

Governor Rauner said, “Innovation, development and use of technology is the key to increased competiveness and economic growth.” The collaboration, cooperation and partnerships between research universities, industry and government provides an important foundation, he continued.

The words “innovation” and “research” were on the lips of nearly everyone who offered remarks. Senator Durbin talked about how the innovation of DMDII will help to create jobs all over the United States. Emanuel spoke about Chicago becoming a leader in the fundamentals of research, as it relates to education.

The Grand Opening was filled with energy, as guests mingled in the foyer surrounded by contemporary artwork, floor-to-ceiling tinted glass windows and virtual images displayed on digital screens. Partners, employees, friends and family ended the day with a celebratory reception.