Aerospace and defense companies feature prominently as partners in two public-private advanced manufacturing institutes launched by the Obama administration.
Led by EWI and headquartered in Detriot, the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) is a 60-member consortium that includes, , and Research Center.
Boeing, Lockheed and GE will also participate in the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, or Digital Lab for Manufacturing, led by UI Labs and headquartered in Chicago. Among the 73 partners areSystemes, , , and .
“We are encouraged that so many of our member companies are already fully engaged with this initiative,” says Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey.
Thewill provide $70 million of funding over five years for the ALMMII, matched by at least $78 million from industry, universities and state and local governments. The institute will place more than $100 million in pre-competitive R&D projects with partner organizations.
The Pentagon will provide another $70 million in funding to the Digital Lab, with industry, academia, government and other partners committing another $250 million. Illinois is providing $16 million in state funding for the institute.
“Furthering the development and application of digital manufacturing technologies and making them more available to small and medium-sized businesses in our supply chain is a critical goal for our industry,” says a statement from Boeing Research & Technologies, which leads the company’s participation in both institutes.
The government has also launched the competition for an Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation Institute with $70 million in Energy Department funding and the goal of lowering costs by 50%, energy use in manufacturing by 75% and increasing recyclability to more than 95% within 10 years.
The first node in a network of centers was established in January – the Next-Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, N.C. is led by North Carolina State University, with $70 million in Energy Department funding. It is focused on wide-bandgap semiconductors.
Non-profit EWI will lead the lightweight materials institute with the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. Its main office will be in Canton, Mich., with significant activity in Columbus. Ohio and Michigan are each providing $10 million in state funding.
The ALMII will be focused on removing the technological barriers to manufacturing new lightweight, high-performing metals and alloys, accelerating the transition from laboratory to production and training the workforce in using the new technologies.
The institute will act as a “teaching factory” and provide shared assets to give companies access to capabilities and equipment to design, test and pilot new products and manufacturing processes, the White House says in a statement.
Many of the materials exist, but “the challenge is in optimizing component designs and developing the advanced processes to manufacture them robustly on a large scale and at affordable cost,” says Alan Taub, ALMMII chief technology officer and professor of materials science at U-M.
The Digital Lab will bring together manufacturing experts and software companies to integrate the 3-D design “digital thread” across the supply chain. Challenges include establishing true interoperability, managing intellectual property, maintaining network security and developing new organization cultures, the White House says.
The Digital Lab will use an open-source online software platform – the Digital Manufacturing Commons – to form networks of people, manufacturing machines and factories, and enable real-time collaboration and “big data” analysis to reduce design and manufacturing time and cost, UI Labs says.