Walmart held its second U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver on Thursday and used the occasion to dole out the first of $10 million in grants designed to stimulate innovation and the creation of U.S. jobs.
The initial grants presented this week were given to organizations focused on reducing the cost of textiles manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the U.S. by addressing obstacles throughout production and improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products.
“Innovation is part of the heart and soul of Walmart,” said Michelle Gloeckler, Walmart’s EVP of consumables and U.S. manufacturing. “By investing in American ingenuity originating everywhere from the research lab to the assembly line, we can transform our approach to manufacturing to be more cost-effective and efficient. We can bring more jobs and more production back into American communities.”
Grant recipients included:
- The Georgia Tech Research Corporation for innovation of thread-count-based fabric motion control, a critical enabling technology for the automated production of sewn goods.
- Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) to advance and accelerate the industrial implementation of metal 3-D printing for the manufacturing of plastic injection tooling as an alternative to current metal-shaping practices.
- North Carolina State University College of Textiles to address challenges to manufacturing of furniture cushions in the U.S. by implementing new technologies in both fabric printing and cut-and-sew automation.
- Oregon State University to develop two novel alternative mold fabricating approaches, and evaluate for functionality, precision and cost reduction potential.
- Texas Tech University to support collaborative research on cotton breeding and biotechnology, cotton production, and various aspects of textile manufacturing, dyeing efficiency and specialty finishes.
- The University of Texas at Arlington to develop a novel manufacturing system that will autonomously prepare small motor sub-systems and assemble the motor components.
- The University of Georgia Research Foundation to develop an innovative approach to fabric dyeing that will greatly reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the need for water in dyeing cotton and cotton/polyester fabrics and yarns.
The grants awards are part of a larger domestic sourcing commitment the company made in January 2013 when plans were unveiled to buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American manufacturing and American jobs by 2023.