US Sen. Brown makes first NAMII tour.

The senator is making a push for more manufacturing institutes nationwide.


The Mahoning Valley has an opportunity to become a “geographic and intellectual center” that can help spur job growth and technological innovation across the country, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, believes.

Brown, who made the remarks Friday on his first tour of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute on West Boardman Street, recognized the national attention the manufacturing hub has received since President Barack Obama referenced it, and Youngstown, during his State of the Union address last month.

First established in August, with $30 million from the 2012 budget authority of federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, and another $40 million from the institute’s research and development consortium, Youngstown’s NAMII is now under pressure to prove its concept and help launch as many as 18 more facilities across the country.

“Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio,” Obama said during his speech. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the-art lab where new workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.”

During his address, the president renewed a call he made in March 2012 asking Congress to authorize $1 billion for a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation.

Since the president’s comments, NAMII has received some negative attention because work there has been slow to develop as the institute continues renovating the building, finalizing project details, and securing the equipment and workforce required to launch.

The goal will be to focus on circumventing technological barriers to the widespread commercial application of additive manufacturing. The process uses three-dimensional software to design a product and send a detailed blueprint to a specialized machine that then prints it layer by layer, fashioning a real-life product made of plastics, metals or resins.

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