Tours of Digital Manufacturing Lab Offer Peek at Possibilities

Chris Hill, director of the CIRAS Technology Assistance Program, at an October 17 lab tour.

Trent Walters knew his task.

“I’m learning the possibilities,” said Waters, an engineer with Dee Zee truck accessories in Des Moines. “You come here and look at all this, and then you start thinking, ‘We can do that…’ ”

Waters is one of dozens of Iowa manufacturers who have visited Iowa State University’s Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy since it opened in September at the ISU Research Park.

The new lab is designed to help de-risk technology for Iowa manufactures by giving them a place to experiment with technologies such as vision systems and collaborative robots. Companies will be able to get advice on a new approach to dealing with workforce or productivity issues, then test and refine the idea before they invest any money.

The lab’s creation was made possible by substantial donations from Alliant Energy and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

“We’re here to celebrate something pretty cool,” Joel Schmidt, vice president of business development for Alliant Energy, said at the ribbon cutting. “It’s more than a lab run by great minds with some really cool machines. We’re celebrating a great partnership that we know will leave a lasting impression on the future of this state.”

CIRAS experts arrange periodic tours of the lab to help companies get acquainted with the possibilities and see whether future work might be warranted. Roughly a dozen Iowa manufacturers, including Walters, visited the lab during a tour in October.

The next one currently is scheduled for March.


For more information, contact Abhay Grover at or 515-509-1485.