VP Joe Biden praises new composites institute in Detroit

The scale-up facility is part of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).

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Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Detroit Department of Transportation headquarters on Sept. 17 where he commended the composite institute's decision to locate an industry collaboration facility in Detroit. The facility will support production-scale composite materials development focused on vehicle lightweighting in collaboration with automotive companies.

"Lightweighting is critical to our future. We want to own the 21st century in innovation and composites are a big part of that goal. That's why we're making a $40 million investment in composites in the Composites Institute co-locating in a facility in Detroit," Biden said.

The composites facility will be co-located with the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) institute — also part of President Obama’s NNMI (National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) initiative. 

The composites scale-up facility will be run by Michigan State University (MSU), which leads IACMI's vehicle technology area in Detroit. The building is located in a previously abandoned and distressed facility in Corktown, the oldest neighborhood in Detroit. The 100,000-square-foot facility has already been extensively renovated through collaborative efforts with Michigan Economic Development Corporation, The New Economy Initiative and Detroit Mayor Duggan's office.

"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," Michigan Governor Rick 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."

"IACMI's technology areas are strategically located in America's manufacturing heartland to serve industry needs," said Craig Blue, IACMI's CEO. "Co-locating with LIFT in the Motor City reinforces our commitment to collaboration through partnerships that enhance the entire automotive ecosystem."

Both IACMI and LIFT are identifying applications for lighter materials in next generation vehicles, IACMI via advanced composites and LIFT via lightweight metals. Locating in the same facility provides a unique opportunity for collaboration between NNMI institutes and the automotive industry, who have identified the need of lightweight materials to meet goals for fuel efficiency, safety and performance.

Approximately $12 million in federal funding will come to the city of Detroit for cost-shared development projects; the state of Michigan has committed $15 million for equipment and staffing; industrial support is valued at $18 million, and the city of Detroit is supporting IACMI's efforts to establish the vehicle scale-up facility.

Several hundred new jobs in the industrial sector are expected as a result of the commercialization successes facilitated by this pilot-scale facility managed by IACMI.