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Detroit To Get $140 Million Metals Manufacturing Institute

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Lightweight metals research at the University of Michigan. UM photo.

Lightweight metals research at the University of Michigan. UM photo.

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWJ) — President Barack Obama Tuesday will announce that the Detroit area is getting a $148 million Department of Defense advanced manufacturing institute concentrating on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing.

The winning bid came from a Detroit-area consortium of businesses and universities, led by the Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI, an unnamed White House official said Saturday.

The Chicago area got the other manufacturing center, one that will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies.

The Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation – or LM3I – Institute will be based in Canton Township. It will receive $70 million in federal funding over five years, matched by another $78 million from the consortium partners. The funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and additional dollars from the state of Ohio.

University of Michigan officials said Sunday that the institute is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the region within the next five years.

According to the White House, the 60-member consortium will pair the world’s leading aluminum, titanium, and high strength steel manufacturers with universities and laboratories pioneering new technology development and research.

UM officials said the institute will be charged with moving cutting-edge lightweight metals out of the research lab and into tomorrow’s cars, trucks, airplanes and ships for both the commercial and military sectors. Lighter vehicles for the military, industry and consumers, alike, have better performance and use less fuel. They can carry larger loads and travel the same distances at lower cost and with fewer carbon emissions. And in the case of the military, they can stand up to heavy weapons while still being easily transportable.

Most of the 10,000 jobs will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest region. The institute will aim to add 100 more metal-related engineering professionals per year and 1,000 more skilled trade workers. Within three years, it should be offering advanced training to an additional 1,000 current employees per year.

President Obama will give further details about the institute in a speech on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Among the LM3I Institute’s 34 corporate partners are ABS, AEM, Alcoa Technology, Boeing, Comau, Easom Automation, EWI, Fabrisonic, Flash Bainite Steel, GE, Honda North American Services, Huys, Infinium Inc., Innovative Weld Solutions, ITW, Lockheed Martin, Luvata, Materion, MesoCoat, MTI, NanoSteel Co., Optomec, Phoenix Integration, PowderMet, RealWeld, RTI International Metals, SaCell, Southwest Research Institute, Steel Warehouse Co., ThermoCalc, Timet, Trumpf Inc., UTRC and Wolf Robotics.

University partners are the Colorado School of Mines, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Tennessee and Wayne State University.

Organizational partners are the American Foundry Society, American Welding Society, ASM International, the Center for Automotive Research, Columbus State Community College, Conexus Indiana, Det Norske Veritas, Focus: Hope, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Ivy Tech, Macomb Community College, Magnet, Pellissippi State Community College, the states of Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio, and the Southeast Michigan Workforce Intelligence Network.

The government says the institute will continue the work that many manufacturers are doing in lightweight and modern metals — including making cars nearly 40 percent lighter without sacrificing strength. There are also defense applications, like armored vehicles strong enough to withstand a roadside bomb but light enough for helicopter transport.

The intent is to make the U.S. more competitive by expanding domestic markets for products made with lightweight and modern metals such as automobiles, wind turbines, medical devices, engines, commercial aircraft, and Department of Defense systems and vehicles. It
will also lead to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.

The White House noted that after shedding jobs for a decade, American manufacturers have added 622,000 jobs since early 2010, including more than 80,000 over the past four months, and that manufacturing production is growing at its fastest pace in over a decade.

And, officials said, the institutes will fulfill the president’s pledge in his 2013 State of the Union to establish three new manufacturing innovation institutes from existing resources. The first of these institutes was announced in January, a Department of Energy-led Next
Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, N.C.

The institutes are intended to bring together applied research and product development among business, academic and training institutions, and federal agencies to encourage more manufacturing in the U.S. — a “teaching factory” designed to help companies, most
importantly smaller manufacturers, learn the latest production techniques and design, test and pilot new products and processes.

The Obama administration is proposing a national network of up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes, which will require legislation from Congress.

The Chicago-based Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute also includes Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and the University of Michigan.

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