US Initiative to Develop Lightweight Metals

Published Mar 1, 2014 6:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

A leadership team from EWI, University of Michigan, and The Ohio State University has been chosen by the Department of Defense to lead a new national institute to advance lightweight and modern metal manufacturing technologies. The American Lightweight Materials Innovation Institute (ALMMII) will ensure that the U.S. is the world leader in the application of innovative lightweight metal production and component/subsystem manufacturing technologies.

The American Lightweight Materials Innovation Institute (ALMMII), the newest center in the President’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, was announced at a White House event. The public-private institute is being launched as part of a federal initiative to help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive and encourage investment in the United States.

Co-founded by EWI, University of Michigan and The Ohio State University, ALMMII will open its doors in spring 2014. The new facility, headquartered in the Metro Detroit area, will focus on developing advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technology for transition to the industrial sector including shipbuilding.

The goal of the new institute will be “to expand the market for and create new consumers of products and systems that utilize new, lightweight, high performing metals and alloys by removing technological barriers to their manufacture,” the White House said.

Both government and industry recognize that using lightweight production materials is increasingly important for enhancing the performance of our country’s defense, transportation, and energy systems, as well as strengthening our work force. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio expressed full confidence and support for the launch. "American workers have the drive, the creativity, and the determination to out-innovate the rest of the world," he said. "By developing innovative partnerships among the DoD, research institutions like The Ohio State University, and industry organizations like EWI, we ensure that American workers and businesses have the resources they need to develop the next generation of high-tech manufacturing Industries. This type of investment helps rebuild our nation's manufacturing sector while creating new jobs and strengthening our middle class.”

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan commended the manufacturing strengths of the ALMMII region. “ALMMII will take advantage of the world-class infrastructure already present in Detroit and Southeast Michigan and will tap the potential of cutting-edge research and educational programs in the region. It will help develop important new technologies to protect our troops and our nation, and help bring those new technologies to commercial markets,” he said.

“Through this initiative, our region will build on its core strengths to become the nation’s technology hub for lightweight materials and manufacturing,” University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman concurred.

In addition to the three founding institutions, the ALMMII consortium includes more than 50 companies, universities, non-profit research institutions, and workforce development intermediaries. The institute is actively seeking more partners to join its team.

Ohio State President Joseph A. Alutto hailed the opportunity to contribute to the endeavor. “We are proud to be working with such an outstanding founding group in establishing this important national institute, which will bring together resources from industry, government, and academia to enhance the region’s competitiveness, create opportunities for students, and generate economic growth,” he said.

The ALMMII team was selected through a competitive process led by the US Department of Defense under the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) solicitation issued by the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research. The Institute will receive $70 million in federal funding matched by another $78 million from the consortium partners.

“The mission of ALMMII is to ensure that the US is the world leader in the application of innovative lightweight metal production and component/subsystem manufacturing technologies,” said EWI President and CEO Henry Cialone. “ALMMII will focus on the total value chain for lightweight materials – rapid development, qualification, optimized use, and commercialization of affordable lightweight structures for defense and commercial requirements.”