10 companies launching pilot projects today

10 companies launching pilot projects today

CHICAGO — University and state officials today (Friday, Dec. 13) will officially launch an initiative designed to spur advancement in the manufacturing sector.

The Illinois Manufacturing Laboratory was to kick off Friday morning with 10 different pilot projects at companies that make everything from gasoline additives to bronze tools and garage-door openers.

The concept for the manufacturing lab was unveiled earlier this year, and since then, officials have been seeking partnerships with manufacturers in the state.

Today's announcement will be at Gold Eagle, one of the companies that has signed on to work with the laboratory's researchers. Among many other products, the Chicago company sells fuel additives like HEET. UI President Bob Easter and UI Board of Trustees chairman Chris Kennedy will join Gov. Pat Quinn and others for the announcement.

Each company has a planned project, with many of them involving virtual modeling, simulation and testing of new products or processes. In addition to Gold Eagle, the companies, most of which are located in the Chicago region, include the following: SWD Inc. in Addison; Transco Products in Chicago; Raynor Manufacturing in Dixon; Premier Fabrication in Congerville; Excel Foundry in Pekin; Tek Pak in Batavia; Germany-headquartered Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, which has locations in the Chicago suburbs; Morgan Bronze Products in Lake Zurich; and Numerical Precision in Wheeling.

Although based in Chicago, the Illinois Manufacturing Laboratory will involve faculty and staff from the Urbana campus, plus those at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, which has worked with major manufacturers like John Deere; staff at the UI's workforce development division within UI Extension; UI-Chicago units; and other university units.

In February, Quinn pledged $5 million of state money for the manufacturing lab.

The Illinois Manufacturing Laboratory will be part of UI Labs, the new research and development entity created by the university. UI Labs, which incorporated earlier this year, is also aiming to land a $70 million federal grant to house a national center for digital manufacturing institute.

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