The new regional organization that will foster the hoped-for growth of private sector additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, in Harford and Cecil counties has hired an executive director with considerable background in using the technology.
The Northeastern Maryland Additive Manufacturing Innovation Authority, or NMAMIA, was created by a law passed by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year in an effort to leverage the additive manufacturing technology for new uses that will in turn spur the growth of businesses and jobs in the region.
Additive manufacturing typically refers to such activities as 3D printing, metrology – measurement and calibration, rapid prototyping and specialized manufacturing. There are many existing and potential uses for the technology.
NMAMIA is designed to be a non-profit organization that will work with Aberdeen Proving Ground and viable businesses that can benefit from additive manufacturing, explained Rick Decker, the organization's executive director, who formerly worked with an AGP-based Army activity which has the area's most practical experience with additive manufacturing. Another goal is to capture federal funding available for the advancement of additive manufacturing.
"This is an opportunity for me to give back," Decker, who retired in 2010 from a 25-year Army civilian career, explained in a recent interview. "I believe in this program. The intent of this endeavor is to help the Army actually help... create jobs, especially in manufacturing, for the county and to do technology transfers of the things that we have learned during the last two consecutive wars."
"It's the reason I feel so strongly about this and I am donating my time and energy," said Decker, who said he declined to take a salary in the position because of his passion for the technology. "At [APG], we have been working with additive manufacturing."
Decker, who lives right outside the post, served as director of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center for three years prior to his retirement. ECBC has made several pioneering uses for 3-D printing technology, particularly in the area of developing protective equipment for soldiers.
"Additive manufacturing will do for Northeastern Maryland what computer did for Silicon Valley," Harford State Sen. JB Jennings said in statement following the board's first meeting. Jennings and Harford Del. Mary-Dulany James were the principal legislators behind the legislation that set up the authority.
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The legislation provides for a salaried executive director position and requires Harford and Cecil counties to appropriate funds annually to promote the authority.
Harford County Economic Development Director Jim Richardson said the authority does not need the money right now but will eventually have trouble marketing itself without it.
Only $5,000 has been allocated so far, from Richardson's department's budget, he said. Richardson is Harford County Executive David Craig's representative on the NMAMIA board.
Decker said he is working out of an office at the Harford Business Innovation Center, a technology transfer office that Richardson's agency set up four years ago in Riverside Business Park in Belcamp.
The board, which held its first meeting on July 8 at APG, includes representatives from schools and colleges in Harford and Cecil counties, the counties' respective offices of economic development, ECBC, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and notable area companies, such as SURVICE Engineering, Chesapeake Testing and ATK, that are already working with APG on additive manufacturing programs.
Decker said the 25 people on board are "a broad representation across industries and academic [fields]."
Members include John Mayhorne of Harford Community College, Mary Way Bolt of Cecil College, Diane Brasington of Towson University, Rob Limpert of Harford County Public Schools, Dan McDermott of GWIB (Upper Shore Workforce Network), Lisa Webb of Cecil County, Bruce England of Susquehanna Workforce Network, Jill McClune of the Army Alliance, Mike Parker of Northeastern Maryland Technology Council, Morgan Miller of Cecil County Public Library, Mary Hastler of Harford County Public Library, Richardson, Mike Galliazzo of Regional Manufacturing Institute, Jeffrey Lawson of Cecil County Public Schools, Jan Baum of 3D, Jeff Fuchs of Maryland Advisory Commission on Manufacturing Competitiveness and Carl Livesay of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.