TechWorks Campus is an advanced manufacturing, research and development, innovation, education, commercial, and manufacturing center situated on a 30-acre Brownfield site.
Use the options below to explore the impact and history of TechWorks campus.
TechWorks Campus serves as a “public-private sandbox” and serves as a regional hub for industry-academic collaborations, especially within the metal casting industry. TechWorks is aligned with higher education institutions Hawkeye Community College (HCC) and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) providing skilled training in applied advanced manufacturing.
The University of Northern Iowa operates its Additive Manufacturing Center (see below) on the TechWorks Campus.
UNI and HCC have partnered to provide design and engineering services and workforce training for students in the Additive Manufacturing Design Lab.
University of Northern Iowa Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC)
The UNI Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) provides direct services targeted towards industry demonstration, education, and consultation with a focus on Manufacturing 4.0. The AMC has the capabilities to use special materials and processes that are not yet commercially available. Assistance is provided for industry adoption of new technologies and to move technologies down throughout the supply chain. UNI and its partners, including other university researchers and industry associations, quickly move new technologies from concept to demonstration. Nearly all of the AMC’s additive manufacturing projects are integrated into production methodologies with a focus on Iowa companies.
Annually, the AMC serves about 100 foundries, foundry suppliers, or manufacturers, with approximately 80 percent of projects dedicated to small or medium enterprises (SMEs).
In addition to the AMC, UNI’s Metal Casting Center (MCC), located on the UNI campus, focuses on materials research and development for metal manufacturing and serves foundries across Iowa and the industrial Midwest. The academic program offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in advanced manufacturing with an emphasis in metal casting.
Additive Manufacturing Design Lab & Workforce
The AMC and the MCC, working with the UNI Department of Technology, have developed a comprehensive plan to support the metal casting industry by providing demonstration space as well as workforce educational opportunities for UNI students and industry professionals. During most academic years, approximately 30 students are employed by the AMC and MCC, and students from other universities are hired as interns during the summer.
The Waterloo Career Center and Hawkeye Community College and the UNI Department of Technology have a collaboration to create a better pathway from pre-apprenticeships to college degrees. The first three phases of this collaboration, or the Ignite program, are now operating in the TechWorks labs.
Additional lab and demonstration space is being added to the $40 million renovation of the Industrial Technology Center on the UNI campus. The renovated space and updated academic program will align with Iowa’s Manufacturing 4.0 plan.
Industry 4.0 Projects & Resources
New materials are continually being developed for the investment casting industry. These materials, when fully developed, will enable reductions in materials used, the level of processing required, and the amount of energy utilized in the manufacturing process. The newly installed automated robotic investment casting shelling cell at TechWorks is only the second shelling unit located in North America that has the combination of additive manufacturing tooling, fully automated operation, and fast-drying technology. This combination allows for the fastest production of investment castings available. Further enhancing the shelling unit is the addition of a burnout furnace that will be robotically integrated into the cell. The AMC will demonstrate and transfer this new technology and help foundries remain competitive.
Another substantial technology advancement is the introduction of low-cost sensors for the metal casting industry, sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency through the Steel Founders Society of America. The project has gained national attention from companies such as Ford Motor Company, Sikorsky, Boeing, and Collins Aerospace. Sensors provide valuable process information that can be used to control manufacturing and assure a higher level of quality in the products that are produced.
Supplier Integration Lab
The ongoing development of the TechWorks/UNI-AMC partnership is leading to the development of a Supplier Integration Lab built around many of the key technologies and concepts under the Industry 4.0 umbrella. Plans include the development of a highly efficient and customized workshop and consulting process that will identify the systems/software and best practices required to improve supplier collaboration in design and agility in order fulfillment. Work to connect data and processes to increase customer visibility and reduce cycle times.
Local and regional Iowa software technology and automation companies to develop software and communication technologies using sensors in the casting industry.
University of Texas El Paso is partnering with the AMC to advance sensor technology.
CESMII (Smart Manufacturing Institute) to create a Satellite Center of Excellence for smart manufacturing at UNI and the AMC.
Defense Logistics Agency through the Steel Founders Society of America (sponsor) for 3D printing of ceramics used in metal casting processes
Pending funding from America Makes to support further development and possible commercialization efforts
1880 - 1920
For nearly a century, the City of Waterloo has been a hub for the farming industry through the ebb and flow of the agricultural industry. In 1882, John Froelich and a group of businessmen created the first-ever gasoline-powered tractor for their fresh new company, the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company. While this initial design didn’t prove successful, it paved the way for future gasoline and kerosene powered tractors years later.
In 1918, Deere & Company, today known as John Deere Tractor Company, purchased Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company for $2,100,000, cementing them in the Waterloo history books.
Upon their purchase of the initial Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company’s manufacturing facilities, Deere & Company saw an immediate opportunity for expansion. Less than a decade later, the business’s board of directors voted to invest $3.9 million in the expansion of the Waterloo manufacturing facilities to increase the production of their GP or General-Purpose model intended to be used for multiple farm-related functions.
1920 - 1950
In April of 1928, the town of Waterloo began to start preparing for the influx of people, jobs, and economic growth. The Waterloo Evening Courier described the expansion announcement as, “the greatest industrial development in the history of Waterloo.” The initiative by Deere & Company was projected to add nearly 10,000 people to the city’s population within two years.
The pinnacle of Deere & Company’s expansion efforts centered around a “front-door” building for the manufacturing complex. Tractor Building R would be the first six-story building in the city, and the spotlight of success for the new manufacturing facilities. In December of 1928, the Waterloo Evening Courier ran the headline, “Tractor Company Expansion is Boom to the Whole Community,” along with illustrations of the new facilities to come.
Upon completion of the R Building, managers allowed tours of the new space in operation for reporters of the community. One such journalist referred to the R building’s third floor as the ‘machine and equipment hospital.’ In this area, workers would repair machinery and conduct routine maintenance to keep things operating smoothly. The report continued describing the new structure while exploring the sixth floor, “Our guide takes us first to the sixth floor, where we find row upon row of machines looking as if they were all making the same thing. [Gears] It is a revelation to us just to stand there and watch row after row of machines doing their work as if they were human and highly educated in a place of just cold iron and steel.”
Astounded by the complexities of the manufacturing industry, the reporter further shared his surprise of the working conditions within the plant as well. “The men that are working in this department do not seem to be hurried, as their principal duty is to supervise the operation of these machines and see that they were supplied with fresh material from time to time.”
1950 - 1970
At the peak of Deere’s production, the R building was an integral piece of the plant’s vertical production process. Deere & Company built the C2 Building to expand its production line and continue its extended growth in the industry. Within the C2 Building Deere & Company employees would assemble smaller parts into larger portions, ultimately piecing together the iconic green and yellow machinery we still recognize today.
In the 1970s, Deere & Company shifted their production efforts to more horizontal strategies and moved their productions toward Donald St. and near the northeastern edge of the city.
The R and C2 buildings both still stand today, with the backdrop of John Deere’s new manufacturing facility in the distance. The C2 Building has been granted historical significance and opened in 2017 as the Courtyard Marriot Hotel at TechWorks.
The R building, colloquially known as TechWorks, currently houses Grow Cedar Valley, the Cedar Valley Makerspace, Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Network Hub, Productive Resources, and the UNI Additive Manufacturing & Design Center.
Information originally shared on Lincoln Savings Bank's website. View Here.