In addition to introducing the Digital Lab for Manufacturing in Chicago yesterday, President Barack Obama also introduced the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) in Detroit. It addresses the requirements of the government’s Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) project, and will speed development of lightweight materials across a number of industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, energy and consumer products.
ALMMII, a $148 million high-tech manufacturing research institute set to open this spring in Detroit, is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the region within the next five years. The $148 million combines $70 million in federal support and $78 million from the consortium partners.
The 60 member group—which pairs leading aluminum, titanium and high strength steel manufacturers with universities and laboratories pioneering technology development and research—is led by the University of Michigan, Ohio-based manufacturing technology non-profit EWI and The Ohio State University.
“Through this initiative, our region will build on its core strengths to become the nation’s technology hub for lightweight materials and manufacturing,” says U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “Companies from around the country will come here not only because of our technological capabilities, but also because we have the workforce they need to revitalize and transform domestic manufacturing.”
The institute’s efforts will span the entire transportation supply chain, sparking innovations from conception through design, development and production. It’s also believed the institute will contract more than $100 million in R&D projects with partner organizations. Finally, by establishing science, technology and engineering curricula for programs from grade school to graduate school, the institute will help educate the next generation of students so they can become manufacturing operators and engineers.
Most of the 10,000 jobs ALMMII is expected to create will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest, the University of Michigan explains. Furthermore, 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 is expected to offer advanced training to an additional 1,000 current employees per year.
ALMMII is 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. In making the announcement, President Obama noted that autoworkers in Detroit are already using advanced, lightweight metals to build new cars that use less gas—and that’s just one example of what these materials can do.
“They can help us build lighter armored vehicles for our troops, planes and helicopters that can carry bigger payloads, wind turbines that generate more power at less cost, and prosthetic limbs that help people walk even though they thought they would never walk again,” President Obama said. “We believe there’s going to be incredible demand for these metals, both from the military and the private sector, and we want them to be made right here in America. We want our workers to have those jobs.”
Obviously there’s need for new, lightweight, high-performing metals and alloys that can increase machine performance. Furthermore, any time there is a way to speed product design, development and production, that’s good too. Perhaps most important, however, is the expected creation of 10,000 jobs and the creation of an education and training pipeline to educate and train future workers.
What are your thoughts on either the institute or use of lightweight materials across industries?