IACMI, LIFT to invest in $50 million in Detroit scale-up facility

The Corktown facility, in Detroit, Michigan, will be updated and upgraded to help develop and mature composites manufacturing processes and materials.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and IACMI-The Composites Institute, announced on Oct. 7 a combined investment of nearly $50 million in their shared manufacturing scale-up facility in Detroit.

The investment will be made over the next 24 months and will include the acquisition and installation of new manufacturing equipment to increase the capabilities of the institute, as well as construction and infrastructure upgrades for the facility to support the new equipment.

As a part of President Obama's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative, now called Manufacturing USA, these investments will allow institute members, partners and others in the industry to conduct research and development projects, in lightweight metals and advanced composites, at the innovative Corktown facility. It will also provide education space for students and adult learners focused on the composites and lightweight materials industries.

The nearly $50 million investment will be comprised of LIFT's $20.5 million and IACMI's $18 million towards equipment, with the rest supporting facility updates and upgrades. Some of the equipment slated for installation includes: hydroforming and extrusion presses; a flexible-robot joining cell; and a linear friction welder for LIFT, and, for IACMI, compression and injection molding presses; prepreg equipment; induction processing; and an RTM/Liquid Compression Molding machine.

As a part of Manufacturing Day, the two institutes will also host over 100 students and chaperones from Palmer Park Middle School, of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, to educate and inspire them to become the next generation of manufacturers. Students will participate in a mobile rally, supported by Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, Focus: HOPE and TechShop Detroit, play a virtual-reality assembly line game, and learn more about manufacturing in a Q&A session with both LIFT and IACMI engineers. Brown and Blue will also provide an overview of what institutes do and the important role manufacturing plays in 2016.

"Our co-investment and collaboration with LIFT strengthens our manufacturing ecosystem of automotive partners in Michigan—and helps to redefine Detroit as a prospering region for vehicle advancement," says Craig Blue, IACMI-The Composites Institute CEO.

"The goal of this new investment is to make a positive impact in and beyond automotive in areas such as aerospace, defense, shipbuilding and other manufacturing sectors," says Lawrence E. Brown, executive director, LIFT. "Moreover, we need to continue to invest in educating and training our next generation of manufacturers. These added resources will allow us to do just that."

Michigan produces more vehicles and has a higher concentration of electrical, mechanical and industrial engineers than anywhere else in the country. The state is home to 23 auto assembly plants, which leads the U.S., and 640 tool and die shops, which employ 17,000 people.