A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last month to celebrate the opening of Solvus Global’s new Center for Scaled Innovation in Manufacturing at 272 Nashua St. in partnership with North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and the city, attracting local and state officials as well as interested parties.
Solvus Global is a technology-solution provider for materials and manufacturing founded in 2017 specializing in the areas of additive manufacturing, machine learning and sustainable materials processing. Headquartered in Worcester, it now operates out of three locations — research and manufacturing facilities in both Leominster and Worcester and a collaborative center in Webster.
Solvus Global co-founder and CEO Aaron Birt said the goal of cSIM is to create a place where innovative manufacturing solutions can be scaled from their research and development facility in Worcester and demonstrated in full production environments.
“It’s really a showcase of how government, industry and academia can come together to solve major supply chain challenges that we face as a country today,” he said.
Birt said two primary products will be coming out of the cSIM facility.
“One will be specialty powder materials that serve the cold spray industry, a growing community that specializes in both 3D printing and repair of legacy parts that are worn out or damaged,” he said. “The second is what we call production of large format additive components, which are parts at least one foot by one foot by one foot that are typically made of specialty materials like Inconel or titanium. We will be fabricating, treating and finishing these parts for our customers across the defense and industry sectors.”
Christine Nolan, director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the MassTech Collaborative based in Westborough, said cSIM is important for the greater community, as it will benefit those beyond Leominster as well.
“Companies like Solvus show local students that today’s manufacturing jobs are not the repetitive or dirty jobs of the past but are high-tech careers that call for teamwork, an interest in cutting-edge digital tools, and critical thinking,” she said. “North Central Massachusetts is full of innovative, high-tech manufacturers like Solvus, places where Massachusetts students can find rewarding career opportunities once they graduate.”
MassTech Collaborative jointly manages the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, or M2I2, grant program along with the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. During the ribbon-cutting, Nolan announced a new $1.6 million M212 grant to Solvus Global and its partner, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which will support both an infrastructure investment, establishing a first-of-its-kind, fully automated robotic Arc-DED (Direct Energy Deposition) manufacturing line, along with an apprenticeship program spearheaded by Solvus and partners WPI and the national manufacturing institute ARM Robotics.
As part of the award, Solvus will establish an apprenticeship program with local technical schools such as Worcester Technical High School and Mount Wachusett Community College, and program curriculum facilitated by WPI will be established which highlights key skills needed by the advanced manufacturing workforce.
“The commonwealth’s support for this program is investing in infrastructure but also in a training program, which taps into educational institutions that have strong ties to the manufacturing sector including schools like WPI, Mount Wachusett Community College, and Worcester Tech,” Nolan said.
She said Solvus Global’s cSIM and the apprenticeship program aligns well with the region’s historical manufacturing roots.
“Massachusetts and the North Central region in particular have a long history of manufacturing leadership,” she said. “We’re now leading when it comes to advanced manufacturing, where manufacturing meets high-tech innovation. Through the M2I2 grant program we’re making critical investments in the tools, training programs and partnerships that will help keep our ‘Made in Mass.’ manufacturing sector in this leadership role for decades to come.”
As CEO of Solvus Global, Birt said much of his job “is setting up the vision for our future and helping to pull together the high-level people and resources necessary to make those visions a reality” through projects such as cSIM.
“Our goal is to be in full production with these innovative manufacturing solutions by the end of 2022 while at the same time serving as a resource for the region to support reskilling our workforce for the next era of manufacturing,” he said. “It’s something that we and many of our partners are passionate about and so we’re looking for ways to work together to create an environment that’s supportive of both the people and the industry.”