Michigan site chosen as part of federal Department of Energy manufacturing composites award

Michael Shore

Friday, January 9, 2015

Funding allows auto industry to advance application of lightweight materials into transportation

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today lauded an announcement by President Obama in Tennessee, which reinforced Michigan’s positioning as the global center for auto research, development and real-world applications.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $70 million grant to the nonprofit Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), with a presence in Detroit, to establish a composites manufacturing innovation center. Last year American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Detroit received a separate grant from the Department of Defense – making Michigan a unique location where multi-materials for vehicles will be collaborated in the same area.

“This award has significant implications on the future of the industry – from the research in the lab to assembly in the plants and applications for vehicles of the future,” Snyder said. “It’s significant for Michigan’s continued leadership in the industry. While the larger auto manufacturers are exploring some of these same material technologies on their own, this grant will help smaller companies with access to the technology, or a place to test innovative ideas.” Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of Automotive at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and auto advisor to the governor, pointed out that the emphasis and focus of material advancement within the auto industry is a key component of the Michigan Automotive Strategic Plan developed last year between his office and Gov. Snyder. IACMI will focus on advanced fiber-enforced polymer composites that combine strong fibers with tough plastics to yield materials that are lighter and stronger than steel.

Kerrigan said each time the auto industry develops new materials for vehicles, manufacturers need new and better equipment to process the materials. This grant from the DOE allows the industry to test and development the equipment needed to keep up with the technology.

IACMI is based in a lab in Oakridge, Tennessee, but will be using additional lab space in Detroit. IACMI’s technology development and demonstration programs will be driven by major industry participation with a focus on reducing technical risk and developing a robust supply chain to support a growing advanced composites industry. 

ALMMII is a public-private partnership developing and deploying advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training programs to prepare the workforce. ALMMII is one of the founding institutes in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a federal initiative to create regional hubs to accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. 

“Weight reduction in vehicles goes hand in hand with the development of new materials for use in transportation vehicles of all types,” Kerrigan said. “The combination of having both IACMI and ALMMII in Detroit will help cement our state’s leadership position far into the future. Today’s announcement is a major step forward for Michigan.”

MEDC worked with many partners on the proposal to bring the grant to IACMI, including Michigan State University, Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, and the University of Michigan among others. 

In the grant application, MEDC made a $15 million commitment to support IACMI activities in Michigan over the next 5 years, which helps to leverage federal and industry funding for the program. The six partner states and members, including more than 90 companies across the supply chain, have committed $189 million in addition contributions to the Institute. IACMI estimates that this new institute will stimulate significant follow on investments and create thousands of manufacturing jobs over the next decade.  

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.