America Makes heightens its stature with AF project


Try this for one tongue- twisting mouthful of technospeak: The Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-cost Sustainment initiative.

Though its name sounds imposing and complex, its mission for the nation’s security and its value for the Mahoning Valley’s economy will bring tangible, palpable and readily understandable rewards.

The project is one of the biggest among dozens under the auspices of downtown Youngstown-based America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Once completed, MAMLS will make the institute’s national footprint even larger and more impressive.

The mammoth project received a giant boost Tuesday when it officially received a $9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to carry the project’s third and final phase to completion.

MAMLS aims to strengthen and modernize the U.S. military’s manufacturing capabilities. For example, it will allow the U.S. Air Force to make parts it needs for repairs more speedily and more intricately.

Rob Gorham, director of America Makes, said the third phase of MAMLS will focus on manufacturing heat exchangers, fairings and oil coolers.

“It was really about trying to establish a capability the Air Force could use at their depots, whether it be a reserve station like the Youngstown Air Reserve Station or a maintenance center,” Gorham added.

RYAN’S CRUCIAL ROLE

Critical to Tuesday’s award was the behind-the-scenes efforts of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who has been a staunch advocate for the advanced manufacturing and 3D printing hub since its inception six years ago.

The veteran Mahoning Valley congressman sponsored funding totaling $30 million for the fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018 Defense Department appropriations budgets for the national military initiative for legacy aircraft.

Thanks to Ryan and other key supporters of the hubs, America Makes is playing a strong role in transforming the economy of our region. At the official check presentation Tuesday, the Howland Democrat said this region is fast “becoming the hub of the most progressive additive manufacturing initiative in the country.”

That success reinforces the proven value of private sector-public sector partnerships, the foundation of America Makes, as a means to advance and enrich the U.S. economy.

Among the many renowned public-sector partners in this military project are the Youngstown Business Incubator, M-7 Technologies, Boeing, GE Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.

Among the many prestigious public-sector partners are the U.S. departments of Defense and Energy, the National Science Foundation, Youngstown State University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Northern Iowa and Pennsylvania State University.

But don’t let those top-tier public and private corporations overwhelm you. America Makes also is transforming small businesses in our region through smaller partnerships for development of new technologies in additive manufacturing that can help those businesses tap into more expansive markets.

It’s little wonder then why America Makes’ growth has been nothing short of meteoric. What started out as a public-private partnership with 14 members today has grown to more than 200 partnering members.

As it plows ahead to complete the MAML’s project for legacy aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, we’re confident its stature also will continue to soar as a regional and national powerhouse for a new economy in innovative manufacturing.

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