Chicago introduces new, high-tech manufacturing lab

The new UI Labs Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute was recently opened in Chicago's Goose Island. This move was made in hopes that manufacturing jobs would be brought back to the area from overseas. It's specifically looking toward high-tech manufacturing by extending digital manufacturing to small and large companies,according to Dean Bartles, executive director of the UI Labs' research lab, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. 

The UI Labs DMDII is a 64,000-square-foot facility located on the only island along the Chicago River. It occupies part of the 285,000-square-foot Republic Windows & Doors plant.The contemporary designs, composed by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will hopefully attract the brightest young minds in the manufacturing industry. The facilities includes a 22,00-square-foot manufacturing floor, classrooms, offices and even a cafe and an open atrium that's meant to be used as a "town hall," according to Curbed Chicago. 

Those tied to UI Labs DMDII hope that it will also attract local businesses and organizations to utilize the facilities, such as tech startups and university researchers. It also hopes to attract larger corporations to solve problems in energy, food production, health care technology, and many more areas of the manufacturing industry. 

Local politicians have been quick to claim responsibility for the implementation of the lab, which was partially funded by a $70 million federal grant. 

According to the Chicago Sun​-Times, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel credits the lab as "what a 21st century economy looks like." Gov. Bruce Rauner gave credit to himself, and a few others, including Emmanuel, for coming up with the idea six years ago. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said the lab is needed to boost the state's economy, particularly with spending on research and development, which he said has declined to half of what it was 50 years ago.