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Gov. Rick Snyder: Detroit will host U.S. Energy Department manufacturing innovation center focused on automotive technology

Universities, government and private sector will collaborate at Corktown facility

Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – A high-tech automotive research and development project announced by Vice President Joe Biden today will tap the talent in Michigan’s universities and private sector, helping the state continue its automotive leadership around the world for years to come, Gov. Rick Snyder said.

Biden, speaking in Detroit, said the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) will share a facility with the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) program in the city’s Corktown neighborhood. 

The institute will focus on developing fiber-enforced polymer composites for automotive materials that are lighter and stronger than steel – helping vehicles become lighter and more fuel-efficient. The program is supported by the U.S. Energy Department and was announced by President Barack Obama in January.

“This project shows how the government can collaborate with the private sector and Michigan’s world-class universities on innovative approaches that will be the future of the auto industry,” Snyder said. “Michigan is the perfect location for a project that will provide opportunities for collaborative research and the development of new materials that will make cars better worldwide – keeping and growing the number of jobs here.”

The Corktown IACMI scale-up facility is an open-access, pilot manufacturing test facility that will work with industry to demonstrate full-scale composite manufacturing equipment and processes to be used by auto manufacturers. The institute’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. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is committing $15 million to the project over the next five years, which will help leverage federal and industry funding. 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. Michigan State University will lead the transportation applications center at IACMI in Detroit.

LIFT is focused on accelerating the transfer of new manufacturing technology from the research lab to the production floor for products using lightweight metals. 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.

Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the Michigan Automotive Office at MEDC, said the emphasis and focus of material advancement within the auto industry is a key component of the Michigan Automotive Strategic Plan developed in 2014 between his office and Gov. Snyder.

“Weight reduction goes hand in hand with the development of new materials for all types of vehicles,” Kerrigan said. “Having IACMI and LIFT co-located in the same facility in Detroit will cement Michigan’s automotive leadership position far into the future.”

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