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Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation – or LM3I –
The White House announced in late February that a $148 million manufacturing research institute will open in Canton later this year and is expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the Midwest. The White House announced that the Michigan-based consortium won a competition to be one of the first three manufacturing innovation institutes in the nation. The first consortium is based in North Carolina and another is to be based in Chicago.
The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be led by U-M, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI and Ohio State University. More than 50 other companies, universities and nonprofits across the U.S. will be involved in the public-private partnership to be headquartered in Canton, with support in Columbus, Ohio.
“Through this initiative, our region will build on its core strengths to become the nation’s technology hub for lightweight materials and manufacturing,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said. “Companies from around the country will come here not only because of our technological capabilities, but also because we have the workforce they need in their efforts to revitalize and transform domestic manufacturing.”
The federal government will invest $70 million over five years with an additional $78 million in matching money from consortium partners. Funding includes $10 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and money from the State of Ohio, according to U-M. And by establishing science, technology and engineering curricula for programs in grade school to graduate school, the institute will help educate the next generation of manufacturing operators and engineers, according to the university.
“The president's selection of the Detroit area for the new Lightweight Modern Metals institute is great news for our city and our region. We are especially glad that Focus:Hope is a key member of the consortium because it means Detroiters will be among the first in the world to develop the skills needed to manufacture these lightweight metals,” stated Duggin.
It brings together a 60-member consortium that will pair leading aluminum, titanium, and high strength steel manufacturers with universities and laboratories creating new technology development and research. “The long-term goal of the LM3I 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.
The Institute will look to achieve this through leadership in pre-competitive advanced research and partnerships across defense, aerospace, automotive, energy, and consumer products industries. The White House recognized that lightweight and modern metals are utilized in a vast array of commercial products, from automobiles, to machinery and equipment, to marine craft and aircraft. "These ultra-light and ultra-strong materials improve the performance, enhance the safety, and boost the energy and fuel efficiency of vehicles and machines," the White House said.
Automakers are using both light weight steel and a high-strength aluminum in new vehicles. The White House said the Department of Defense will benefit from the research since "lightweight and modern metals will strengthen our defense capabilities, like enabling the creation of armored vehicles strong enough to withstand a roadside bomb but light enough for helicopter-transport."
Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, said the project is great news for Michigan and recognition of the state and region’s talent, innovation, higher education institutions and strong leadership in manufacturing. “Michigan has led the nation in number of manufacturing jobs. Can’t think of a more perfect place for this new institute,” she said.
It's focus is 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, U-M said. The institute’s efforts will consist of the entire transportation supply chain, taking innovations from conception through design, development and production. Most of the 10,000 jobs will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest. The institute goal is to to add 100 more metal-related engineering professionals per year and 1,000 more skilled trade workers.
The concept of such a grand network came out of Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, launched in 2011. Coleman and engineering professor Jack Hu, now U-M’s interim vice president for research, served on the working group that recommended the innovation network. Canton Supervisor Phil LaJoy said the investment gives the city an opportunity to show the world how it is a business-friendly community.
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