3D Printing/ Additive Manufacturing

Oakland County Awards $15 Million for Phase 2 of Project DIAMOnD – the World's Largest 3D Printing Network

Automation Alley
May 24, 2023
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Project DIAMOnD Press Conference (Image by Sean Healey)

Project DIAMOnD Press Conference (Image by Sean Healey)


Funding will allow more than 250 Oakland County manufacturers to join Project DIAMOnD’s 3D printing network, creating a marketplace for the growing ecosystem.

Rochester Hills, Mich., May 24, 2023 – Oakland County has designated $15 million in funding to support Project DIAMOnD, an Oakland County initiative powered by Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center, to drive Phase 2 of the successful program. The announcement was made by County Executive Dave Coulter and Automation Alley’s Project DIAMOnD CEO Pavan Muzumdar at a press conference today at Unique Short Tree. This Rochester Hills-based company benefited from the project’s first phase.

Project DIAMOnD – Digital, Independent, Agile, Manufacturing On Demand – started in 2020 to support regional manufacturers adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate digital transformation by distributing 300 3D printers to small and mid-size manufacturers – at no cost.  

The result was the creation of the world’s largest 3D printing network and the most significant effort of its kind to take small- and medium-sized manufacturers to the next level of manufacturing.

“The Project DIAMOnD program has been one of Oakland County’s most successful endeavors to help local manufacturers use advanced technology to become more adaptable, efficient, and realize significant cost savings,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “This initiative is expanding so even more manufacturers can innovate and create new business opportunities and increase production of badly needed parts in an era of supply chain disruptions and shortages.”

Oakland County has 2,626 manufacturers, $13 billion in manufacturing GDP, 66,790 manufacturing jobs, and creates 1.8 indirect jobs for every manufacturing position. It estimates additive manufacturing could create 10,000 to 32,000 new skilled jobs. The three-year funding commitment is made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Additive – or 3D printing – is the future of manufacturing, and we know companies must embrace this technology to succeed long term,” said Muzumdar, who also serves as Automation Alley COO, at the event. “Phase 1 was focused on creating the ability for traditional manufacturers to accept, understand and embrace the technology. With funding from Oakland County, Phase 2 will focus on converting that ability to commercial activity while further expanding the network with new manufacturers.”

Phase 2 will provide an additional 250 3D printers to Oakland County manufacturers at no or reduced cost.

Press conference attendees saw firsthand how Unique Short Tree Design benefitted from the 3D printer they acquired as part of Phase 1. Unique Short Tree Design is a leader in the furniture lifecycle, specializing in upholstering and repair for residential and commercial customers. Owner Tammy Packard led guests through how they used their 3D printer during the pandemic when faced with supply chain issues and could not obtain critical parts.

Packard said the printer was a “savior” for the business, whose career began in traditional manufacturing. “I bypassed the supply chain during the pandemic and used 3D printing to produce parts.” The company’s new 3D design expertise today produces furniture and tufting cord fasteners.

“The journey from traditional manufacturing to digital transformation is one of the greatest challenges companies face today,” said Joe Anderson, TAG Smart Group president, and the first company to benefit from Project DIAMOnD Phase 2. “Small companies are agile but resource constrained. This program opens the door for companies like mine to transform and control our destinies with greater access to supply chains.”

TAG Smart Group is a minority and veteran-owned business with ties to the Department of Defense. “I believe this project will allow small and mid-sized manufacturers to compete with the larger original equipment manufacturers in securing DOD contracts,” he said.

Automation Alley and Project DIAMOnD will continue to work with existing partners, Markforged, Inc.; Giggso; and 3YOURMIND, and are seeking additional partners, printer manufacturers, and funders to join the program.

“Like Unique Short Tree and the dozens of other success stories from Phase 1, we want more companies to understand additive manufacturing and how you build a business around 3D printing,” said Muzumdar, adding that companies are finding that 3D printing is increasing speed-to-market, lowering costs, and reducing waste.

Oakland County-based small- and medium-sized manufacturers and engineering services, tech services, design, robotics, and integrators, are encouraged to apply for Phase 2. For more information and an application, visit projectdiamond.org.

For examples of other successful Phase 1 projects and contacts, contact Nicole Kampe, Marketing Director, Automation Alley, kampen@automationalley.com.

About Project DIAMOnD

Project DIAMOnD was established in October 2020 by Oakland County and Automation Alley through CARES Act grants of $10 million from Oakland County. $2 million additional dollars from Macomb County, allowed the current network to expand to Macomb County businesses. This program accelerates digital transformation among Michigan manufacturers and strengthened supply chains for producing PPE during the pandemic. Project DIAMOnD participating manufacturers could use the 3D printers supplied by Markforged, Inc. to expand their production of various industrial parts and products, ultimately enhancing Industry 4.0 manufacturing capabilities in Michigan and throughout the United States. Visit projectdiamond.org.

About Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center and home to the World Economic Forum's US Center for Advanced Manufacturing. With a global outlook and a regional focus, they facilitate public-private partnerships, connecting industry, education, and government to help businesses by successfully navigating the challenges of digital transformation. Visit automationalley.com.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft will play a role in Phase 2 by working with Project DIAMOnD to develop the IP and network security needed to transform manufacturing to digital.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, based in Germany, is the world’s leading applied research organization. Prioritizing key future-relevant technologies and commercializing its findings in business and industry, it plays a major role in the innovation process. A trailblazer and trendsetter in innovative developments and research excellence, it is helping shape our society and our future. Founded in 1949, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft currently operates 76 institutes and research units throughout Germany. Over 30,000 employees, predominantly scientists and engineers, work with an annual research budget of €2.9 billion. Fraunhofer generates €2.5 billion of this from contract research.

For more information, contact:

Cara Lutz clutz@lambert.com

Nicole Kampe kampen@automationalley.com

Bill Mullan mullanw@oakgov.com

Automation Alley
Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan's economy.

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