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Manufacturing Innovation Hubs

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Name: Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) Institute; Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Impact: Research and Economic Investment

The University Research Corridor (URC) universities have been called upon by the White House to lead two innovative initiatives, LIFT and IACMI.

In Detroit, the University of Michigan has worked to bring the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) institute to fruition (formerly known as the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, or ALMMII). Operated by founding partners the Ohio State University, U-M, and a technology non-profit, EWI, the Department of Defense-supported project will drive lightweight materials manufacturing. LIFT also includes a host of industry and university partners, including URC’s Michigan State University and Wayne State University. Located in Detroit’s Corktown, the project is expected to create 10,000 jobs.

Alan Taub

Alan Taub

“The technologies being developed at LIFT are prioritized by our industry members who also work on the project with our research partners, which include University of Michigan faculty,” said Alan Taub, U-M professor of materials science and chief technology officer of the new institute.

 

“The projects take inventions of new lightweight metals processing methods from laboratory scale to the point where industry can commercialize the technology. The technologies result in reduced vehicle weight which improves fuel economy and mission capability.”

The mission of LIFT is to ensure that U.S. manufacturers have leading edge technology to reduce the weight of the machines that move people and goods on land, sea and air. The Institute also has education and apprenticeship initiatives to train the workforce that will operate these advanced manufacturing processes.

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) is a composite-materials venture and Michigan State University will serve as the primary academic partner, while working with companies including The Dow Chemical Company and Ford Motor Company. MSU’s state-of-the-art Composite Materials and Structures Center and Composite Vehicles Research Center will house the project.

Lawrence Drzal

Lawrence Drzal

“These two world-class facilities will serve as the foundation for future work in this program,” said Dr. Lawrence Drzal, director of the MSU Composite Materials and Structures Center. Drzal is director of the IACMI Vehicles Technology Application Center for the institute.

 

“We’re confident the IACMI will create new jobs, support the expansion of Michigan-based companies and educate technicians and engineers for these industries.”

“We have a long history of developing core competencies in composites and metals at our research universities,” Drzal said. “One of the reasons for locating in Michigan is actually based on the proximity of manufacturers who will utilize these materials in their products.”

 

“We already have the knowledge base and now we are coupling it with the manufacturing base in Michigan, and that is a formula for success.”

Noting that LIFT is focused on lightweight metals and IACMI is focused on lightweight, fiber reinforced polymer composites, Drzal said that both programs go beyond traditional research. These programs are focused on transitioning research into the manufacturing arena.

Photo Note: Mihaela Banu, ME Associate Professor, shows an example of an alloy.
Image Credit: Joseph Xu