Made in the Stateline: EIGERlab

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Getting a business off the ground can be a challenge, but keeping one going is sometimes just as tough.

To survive, businesses need a competitive edge.  Sometimes that means developing a new product.  Other times, it’s improving the products companies have or the process used to make those products.  That’s where digital manufacturing comes in.

“Digital manufacturing isn’t scary,” said Federico Sciammarella, the interim Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at Northern Illinois University.  “Even a small business can benefit from how to simulate a process of their’s virtually, so they can understand where they might have bottlenecks, where they might run into problems, or how to optimize a process.”

Digital manufacturing can involve creating a process or simulating making a product to efficiently and inexpensively coming up with a prototype before making the real thing.  In the long run, that can save time and money.  It’s one of the reasons NIU EIGERlab in Rockford picked the topic for EIGERlab’s “Monthly Meetup.”

“EIGERlab is a not-for-profit business incubator,” said C49D Director Mike Cobert.  “We’re here to help businesses either get started or an existing business who has run into a speed bump and needs help getting through that we’re able to get them the help they need to further grow their business.”

These meet ups are just part of what NIU EIGERlab does.  The organization also operates a Center for Product Development.

“We help individuals and businesses develop their products,” said Cobert.  “From the idea, all the way through engineering, manufacturing, and in a box in a warehouse ready to go to their customer.”

Information learned at events like this may just be the missing piece of the puzzle a company needs to thrive and possibly be able to hire more people.

“Any advantage we can give to businesses here locally in Rockford and the region to me is exciting because that means we’re helping and contributing to their growth and their continued success.”

NIU EIGERlab is also part of an innovation network offering product development help all over northern Illinois, Rockford, Elgin, Schaumburg, Naperville, and DeKalb.

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