Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill Thursday creating a regional 3D printing and additive manufacturing authority in collaboration with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The bill, creating the Northeast Maryland Additive Manufacturing Authority, or NMAMIA, has been heralded by Harford legislators as the future of manufacturing to bring jobs back into the area and ensure Maryland is at the forefront of innovation.
Harford Del. Mary-Dulany James and Del. David Rudolph, who represents Cecil County, introduced the NMAMIA legislation in the House of Delegates and Harford State Sens. J.B. Jennings and Barry Glassman have introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
"The number one concern that is shared by most people I talk to is the job market and what Maryland is doing to stay competitive," said James in a news release Thursday. "[NMAMIA] will establish an additive manufacturing hub right here in Maryland, creating job opportunities for individuals of all ages and skill levels."
Additive printing, or 3D printing, uses industrial robots to create three-dimensional solid objects through successive layering, an additive process, as opposed to carving away or stamping out an object.
The Edgewood lab is worth $1.8 billion in infrastructure and specialized equipment with about 1,400 personnel, according to ECBC Director Joseph D. Wienand.
Under NMAMIA, ECBC agrees to allocate between $50 million to $75 million in resources, including engineers, personnel, blue prints and technology, through a research and development agreement toward any projects and initiatives established by the authority.
NMAIMIA is a collaboration between officials and representatives from the Harford and Cecil County officers in the Department of Business and Economic Development, Harford and Cecil community colleges, APG, Harford and Cecil public schools, Harford and Cecil public libraries, 3D Maryland, the Army Alliance and other groups.
According to the bills, NMAMIA will leverage the additive manufacturing investments at ECBC and around the region to "position the state as a leader in additive manufacturing." NMAMIA will foster the economic development of the region by promoting collaboration among government, businesses, educational institutions, entrepreneurs and innovators.
President Barack Obama announced in March 2012 plans to establish the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which establishes 15 centers of innovation around the United States. In March 2013, the National Manufacturing Innovation Institute awarded $4.5 million for seven applied research and development partnerships projects and another $9 million last January toward 15 projects that will provide $10.3 million in matching cost shares.
The U.S. Senate and House have introduced legislation to create the Network for Manufacturing Innovation Program, which appropriates $600 million for up to 45 centers creating regional innovation hubs through public-private partnerships to strengthen competitiveness in U.S. manufacturing, new ventures and boost local and state economies.
According to James, NMAMIA has been meeting, establishing bylaws and starting discussion of its first two projects, in anticipation of the bill's signing. She said NAMAMIA representatives are anticipating "pretty immediate" results from establishment of the authority.
"The outset is 12 months with tangible results, but it looks like projects will come as early as this summer," James said.
Next week, area businesses will be touring the additive manufacturing lab at ECBC to "discover potential resources," James said.