Cisco Innovations, Moving Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

September 5, 2012 - 2 Comments

As Kevin Sullivan points out in his recent blog, partnerships are an important strategic approach to today’s R&D and innovation.  Kevin recommends strategies that industry-winning manufacturers can follow.

Investments in innovation are exciting.  They inspire creativity and they fuel our economy.

What an afternoon of innovation looks like at Cisco

I was thrilled to discover that an institute for manufacturing innovation was recently launched in Youngstown, Ohio.  This effort embodies a publicly and privately-funded partnership aimed at fueling R&D and innovation.  Along with the U.S. federal government, a consortium of impressive manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations formed a partnership called the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).  They contributed a combined $70M to the Youngstown manufacturing innovation effort.

Motivated resources from a variety of academic, manufacturing and business backgrounds will come together to advance technology and manufacturing.  And what will this Youngstown institute focus on first?  Additive manufacturing.  What is additive manufacturing?  It’s the more formal name for 3D printing.  And it’s quite cool.

But what does 3D printing have to do with Cisco?

Consider this – 3D printing is accomplished by creating micro-thin layers of a product. This means the designs for even a simple product take up a massive amount of digital space.  And those designs will be stored and shared over a network.  3D data transportation demands will be so large; we can probably forget about 1 Gbps Ethernet.  Think 10 Gbps, 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps and beyond.  Think Big Data.

Manufacturers will need to store, transport and protect the 3D design data.  Luckily, Cisco’s ready.

Solutions like Cisco’s MDS series can provide Storage Area Networking, and the Nexus 7000s and 5000s can transport enormous amounts of data to the 3D printers.

Since 3D printing will put a manufacturer’s proprietary designs on the network, the designs will need to be protected.  Cisco Secure-X framework provides for perimeter security while Cisco Storage Media Encryption enables security in the data center.

3D printing will effect big changes in manufacturing delivery models. Sometime soon, we may beable to download a wrench or a new drill just as easily as we download music, books and movies today.  We may or may not have 3D printers in our homes, but imagine ordering an object online and picking it up at the local shipping center or post office.  It’ll require an amazingly robust and intelligent network.  Thanks to Cisco innovations, the network is ready.


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  1. we are experiencing exciting technological changes, and 3d printing is one such example.

    3d printing will prove to be useful in many areas, so this is for sure a technological advancement.

    • Thanks for your comment Dan. We’re in agreement! 3D printing is, for sure, a technological advancement. Just 9 months ago Cisco’s Andrew Lach blogged about 3D printing and wondered about the direction it would take. Based on the NAMII investment mentioned above, 3D printing is clearly moving forward. My assumption is that it will only add manufacturing opportunities. Do others agree?