IACMI: The Real Work Starts Now

CompositesWorld contributor and IACMI chief commercialization officer Dale Brosius guest blogs about his role at IACMI, IACMI's role in composites technology development, and the upcoming Carbon Fiber conference, Dec. 8-10 in Knoxville, TN.

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I’ve been very fortunate to have been in the composites industry for over 30 years, and also to be given a platform to opine in CompositesWorld each month through my column Composites: Perspectives and Provocations. This month I get a second go with this blog post!

I’m also fortunate to be serving as the chief commercialization officer for the Institute for Advanced Composites Innovation (IACMI), the fifth of the U.S. manufacturing institutes founded by the NNMI program. IACMI - The Composites Institute is a public-private partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, with a focus on energy applications of composites, including vehicle lightweighting, wind energy and compressed fuel storage.

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The confluence of my two roles happens Dec. 8-10 in Knoxville, Tennessee, where IACMI is headquartered, at the CompositesWorld annual Carbon Fiber conference. Exactly 11 months prior, in January 2015, President Obama and Vice President Biden came to Knoxville to announce that IACMI had won the competition to negotiate a cooperative agreement with DOE to become the nation’s advanced composites manufacturing institute. In the final hour of the conference agenda on Dec. 9, I’ll present an update on our progress to date, which is a substantial body of work. Since January, we have negotiated and signed the cooperative agreement, held an introductory members meeting, entered collaborations with several key partners, conducted outreach sessions at important conferences, and issued our first Request for Proposals. Soon, we will be announcing projects selected for funding and holding our second members meeting.

Much of what has been accomplished has been related to getting things “up and going” to prepare for the real purpose of The Composites Institute: solving real world problems that get in the way of mass proliferation of advanced composites in industrial markets. To help outline those challenges, I will also lead a panel discussion at the conference comprising key stakeholders – our DOE sponsor, the director of our Materials & Processing Technology Area, and three of our industrial members – one each from our Charter, Premium and Resource categories. What are some of these challenges? How about sharing information in an industry that tends to lean on trade secrets, building a solid supply chain capable of meeting the demand of the OEMs and their customers, and increasing the confidence level in design, manufacturing and sustainability of composites so they are easier to deploy?

These, and other issues, are no small obstacles, and it will require a coordinated effort on the part of all of our stakeholders. Yes, the hard work for IACMI is about to start. But it’s also the fun part, the part we all signed up to make happen.

There are lot of other great presentations, a tour, a pre-conference seminar and great networking opportunities at this year’s conference, so lots of reasons to attend. All the information is available at www.carbonfiberevent.com. See you in Knoxville!

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Dale Brosius, chief technology officer, IACMI