IACMI starts to hit its stride

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI, Knoxville, TN, US) held its second membership meeting in Detroit, MI, US, Jan. 13-14, to coincide with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
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Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) (IACMI, Knoxville, TN, US) held its second membership meeting in Detroit, MI, US, Jan. 13-14, to coincide with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The meeting was the first since formation of the US$259 million public/private consortium designed to accelerate composite materials and process development in June 2015, and it was held to bring members (suppliers, OEMs, academia, government officials) up to speed on the consortium’s activities. IACMI is organized around five focus areas: automotive, pressure vessels, wind, process engineering and design engineering. There are specific goals associated with each area. IACMI members are encouraged to develop collaborative partnerships to pursue projects affiliated with a goal or goals, and then solicit funding from IACMI. Projects can be developed ad hoc, or organized to meet a request for proposal (RFP), the first of which IACMI issued in fall 2015.

The headline news at the meeting was the announce- ment by Larry Drzal, IACMI’s director, vehicle technology area (VTA), and Ray Boeman, associate director, VTA, of the establishment of an IACMI technical center in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, which will be used for R&D and pre-production operations for prepregging, resin transfer molding (RTM), compression molding, injection overmolding, finishing and material formulation. IACMI will have 2,880m2 of high-bay space and more than 743m2 of additional space shared with the Detroit-based Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) consortium.

For proof of innovation progress, IACMI offered Dr. Felix Nguyen, principal research scientist at Toray Composites (America) Inc. (Tacoma, WA, US), who talked about a collaborative effort with Tacoma-based Globe Machine Manufacturing Co., Janicki Industries (Sedro- Woolley, WA) and RocTool (Charlotte, NC, US) to develop fast-cure prepreg materials for automated compression molding of automotive composite parts. Peter Fritz, engineering specialist at Eaton, discussed his company’s IACMI proposal to develop a composite differential case for automotive driveline use that could show mass savings of 40-50%.

Doug Adams, technical fellow in nondestructive evalu- ation (NDE) at Vanderbilt University, talked broadly about IACMI’s goals to improve composites fabrication process control and discussed
the role that robust NDE might play. Specifically, he addressed the need for faster, large area NDE technology that enables fabricators to assess process and product quality in real time, when it is easiest and least expensive to correct errors. He also discussed the value cure-monitoring technologies offer those who seek to optimize fabrication processes and avoid part over-cure. 

Dale Brosius, IACMI chief commercialization officer, walked the membership through the consortium’s goals for the five years covered by the program’s initial funding window. At the top of this list is to ensure IACMI is sustainable beyond that window. That will require that many initial goals be met, including a 25% reduction in carbon fiber composite cost, a 50% reduction in carbon fiber composites embodied energy and 80% composites recyclability into useful products. In addition, IACMI is tasked with reducing lifecycle energy consumption, increasing domestic production capacity, job growth and establishing an advanced training program. The first commercialization of an IACMI technology must be achieved by month 24; 20 more must follow and 500 people must complete the IACMI training program, all within the five-year timeframe. Read Brosius’ commentary on IACMI’s gathering on p. 8.

IACMI is still accepting membership applications. Interested companies and organizations are encouraged to contact the consortium to explore options and costs. The next IACMI membership meeting will be in July at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.

For more information about IACMI membership, visit iacmi.org/membership

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