Auto manufacturing in Tennessee is being revolutionized by the use of 3D printing.

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How Tennessee is Addressing Labor Shortages with Technical Training Programs

In the face of the ongoing labor shortages in the manufacturing industry, the state of Tennessee has taken proactive measures to address this constraint by implementing technical training programs. With the recent influx of funding from various sources such as the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Bill, it is clear that manufacturing labor shortages are a significant concern that needs to be addressed.

Tennessee is already a leading auto manufacturer and has made concerted efforts to train a new supply of skilled manufacturing workers. One of the notable initiatives is the Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus in Smyrna. This campus provides students with direct access to employer pipelines for major automakers like Nissan Motor Co. The classrooms are designed to simulate real-world auto body shops, complete with towering robots operating equipment. The state has invested a staggering $1 billion into the college’s collaboration with businesses in the region.

The demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to skyrocket, with sales projected to nearly double from 2022 to 2023. In recognition of this trend, Ford has received $9.2 billion in federal funding to construct three EV factories in Kentucky and Tennessee. Volkswagen has also started manufacturing EVs in Tennessee and is actively seeking to train technical employees to fill new jobs in the area.

To keep up with the evolving industry, Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology have expanded their workforce-training programs since the pandemic. As a result, more students are enrolling in apprenticeships at local manufacturers. This approach strikes a balance between theory and real-life applications, ensuring that students gain practical skills for their future careers.

One example of how Tennessee is aligning technical education with industry needs is through the integration of 3D printing in automotive manufacturing. Auto manufacturers like Nissan and the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus have embraced this technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs. For instance, Nissan’s additive manufacturing laboratory in Spain uses 3D printers with an Independent Dual Extrusion (IDEX) system, which allows for the simultaneous printing of identical components, doubling productivity.

The University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus has a strong focus on 3D printing in its aerospace program. Thanks to their Fab Lab, which houses various brands of 3D printers, aerospace students can bring their designs to life in physical, three-dimensional prototypes. By providing students with hands-on experience in 3D printing, Tennessee’s institutions of higher education are preparing them for the demands of the industry.

The Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing, Moving from Evolution to Revolution (HAMMER) Engineering Research Center at the University of Tennessee is another initiative aimed at developing and deploying intelligent and autonomous manufacturing systems. This multi-institutional program involves universities like Ohio State University and Northwestern University, as well as numerous industry, educational, and technical organizations. The goal is to implement new manufacturing technologies that can produce agile, high-performance, and high-quality parts.

With initial investments of $26 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and others, the HAMMER project seeks to invigorate US manufacturing. Leveraging the now permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit, this program aims to spur innovation and create a highly skilled workforce that can meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry.

Tennessee’s efforts to address labor shortages through technical training programs and the integration of advanced technologies like 3D printing are commendable. By equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed in high-demand fields, the state is positioning itself as a leader in manufacturing and paving the way for future success.

3D Printing: A Game-Changer for R&D Tax Credits

The world of manufacturing is always seeking new ways to innovate and improve its products, processes, and software. One emerging technology that has been gaining significant attention and making waves in the industry is 3D printing. Not only does it offer countless possibilities for creating prototypes and final products, but it also presents an opportunity for companies to boost their Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits.

Traditionally, R&D Tax Credits have been associated with technical employees who spend their time creating, testing, and revising prototypes. However, with the rise of 3D printing, the scope of these credits has expanded. Now, wages for these technical employees can be included as a percentage of eligible time spent on 3D printing activities.

But it doesn’t stop there. Companies can also claim tax credits for the time spent integrating 3D printing hardware and software into their existing processes. This means that if a company is investing in incorporating 3D printing technology to enhance their manufacturing processes, they can include the time and effort spent on this integration as an eligible activity for the R&D Tax Credit.

Another aspect where 3D printing shines is in modeling and preproduction. As companies develop their products, they often go through multiple iterations, consuming a significant amount of filaments in the process. These costs can also be recovered as part of the R&D Tax Credit, further incentivizing companies to embrace 3D printing for their development needs.

The use of 3D printing is not only an indicator of R&D Credit eligible activities, but it also presents an opportunity for companies to stay competitive in the market. By adopting this innovative technology, companies can streamline their product development process, reduce costs, and bring products to market faster.

One state that recognized the potential of 3D printing and took action to support its growth is Tennessee. With labor force constraints becoming increasingly well-known, the state implemented policies to support manufacturing skills training. However, to truly address the challenges, the 3D printing industry needs to be an integral part of this comprehensive technical program. By encouraging the adoption of 3D printing technology and providing training opportunities, Tennessee has positioned itself as a leader in fostering innovation and economic growth.

In conclusion, for companies looking to develop new or improved products, processes, and software, 3D printing offers a unique opportunity to boost their R&D Tax Credits. Whether it’s creating and testing prototypes or integrating 3D printing into existing processes, the time and effort spent on these activities can be claimed as eligible for the credits. Furthermore, the costs of consumed filaments during the development process can also be recovered. So, companies at any stage of implementing 3D printing should consider taking advantage of R&D Tax Credits to maximize their innovation potential and stay ahead in the market.

Share this post and spread the word about how 3D printing can revolutionize R&D Tax Credits and drive manufacturing skills training. Let’s embrace this transformative technology and fuel economic growth together.

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