Over 100 Manufacturing Firms Heading to UMass Amherst for Opening of Advanced Manufacturing Facilities to Boost Economy


DATE:           Friday, June 30
TIME:            2-5 p.m., opening remarks 2 p.m. followed by tours and networking
WHAT:          Grand opening of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences’ advanced manufacturing facilities
WHERE:       Fourth Floor, Life Sciences Laboratories, 240 Thatcher Road, Amherst

Remarks and a Q&A with Jay Ash, secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Economic Development, will kick off the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences’ (IALS) grand opening of its advanced manufacturing facilities, now available as a resource to companies in the region. The goal is to increase manufacturing capabilities and add jobs to the regional economy.

Organizers say principals and representatives of more than 100 manufacturing firms have registered to attend including from Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, General Dynamics, Saint-Gobain and many smaller companies in the Berkshires and the region. Attendees are coming from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, California and the nation. Visitors will hear from and interact with experts on each machine or lab’s capabilities.

James Capistran, executive director of the UMass Innovation Institute, and Andrew Vinard, director of IALS core facilities, say the facility was enabled by $95 million from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Vinard adds, “We want all the advanced manufacturers and related industry to know that we are open for business and to have them come in and see for themselves what we have to offer.” Many local community college and high school staff who may use IALS in their courses are expected to attend.

Massachusetts manufacturers supply millions of precision parts to the aircraft, space, automobile, medical device, biomedical, nuclear power and many other industries, Capistran says. Increasingly, these require sophisticated design and small-batch production of customized components made on extremely high-tech equipment.

For example, companies that cannot afford the $800,000 3D printer for prototyping and testing custom artificial knee joint parts can come to the IALS’s advanced manufacturing facilities for help with device characterization and design as well as testing. IALS offers e-design, electronics and materials testing, 3D printers and laser cutters, roll-to-roll manufacturing machines that print prototype micron- or nano-scale sensor chips or circuits on flexible films and coating machines, some of them unique in the world.

The NSF eDesign Center led by mechanical engineering professor Sundar Krishnamurty is also expected to be a big draw for CAD/CAM modeling and simulation.