A $10 million grant was initially awarded to help each county’s manufacturing base purchase and implement Industry 4.0 technologies. The initiative is supported by Microsoft and Markforged.

DIAMOnD for Digital, Independent, Agile, Manufacturing on Demand is a project that aims to accelerate digital transformation among Michigan manufacturers and strengthen supply chains.

Launched by Automation Alley, Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center and a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and funded by Oakland and Macomb counties, the project wants to accelerate the move of companies in the region into the digital manufacturing age of Industry 4.0.

It initially meets the needs of personal protective equipment (PPE), then gradually expands into the production of a variety of parts and products to enhance Industry 4.0 manufacturing capabilities in the United States.

To do so, all parties will create the country’s largest 3D printer network on a blockchain technology platform.

Named as main distributor of the project, Markforged has already supplied the first wave of  hundreds of 3D printers (Mark 2 Desktop 3D printer and the X7 Industrial platform) that will serve the needs of companies, while Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology has been installed to ensure connectivity.

The role of blockchain in Project DIAMOnD
Blockchain in its clearest terms is a decentralized accounting ledger that stores data and records information in real time. It is securely shared by users across multiple, independent computer networks called nodes. Blockchain adds new and unique “blocks” (transactions recorded into a ledger) to a “chain” (a hash or unique cryptographic identifiers that seamlessly links the blocks together) once transactions have been verified through consensus across the network.

These records are theoretically immutable, unalterable and more tamper-proof than other databases—thereby increasing trust among users and shining a light on potential cyber intrusions and other fraudulent behaviors. If the data is changed inappropriately, known as a 51% attack, alarms go off to protect the integrity of the network. 

The significance of building the Project DIAMOnD network of 3D printers on blockchain technology cannot be overemphasized,” Automation Alley Executive Director and CEO Tom Kelly said. “The sheer number of printers, connected through optimal security technology, puts Michigan on the world stage and democratizes Industry 4.0 application and accessibility for even our smallest manufacturers.”
As of now, Automation Alley’s efforts with Project DIAMoND will focus on setting up the governance structure so the platform is decentralized, distributed and accessible.  
Our ultimate and enduring goal for Project DIAMOnD is for Automation Alley to create and support a self-governing ecosystem whereby we establish the mechanism to set up the rules and revise them as necessary so that all manufacturing participants benefit in wealth creation fairly and equitably,” Kelly said.

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