US to announce topics for manufacturing innovation institutes

26 February 2013 23:09  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US government will soon select three advanced manufacturing technologies that will be developed in future institutes as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a federal official said on Tuesday.

In April, the Department of Defense (DOD) will select two topics that address critical national security needs, said Brett Lambert, assistant secretary of defence for manufacturing and industrial base policy.

The Department of Energy (DOE) will also lead another initiative that addresses critical national energy needs, Lambert added while speaking on the sidelines of the HOUTEX: The Art of Manufacturing conference.

Co-funded by the federal government and private investors, the NNMI is a network of up to 15 regional institutes for manufacturing innovation that will help integrate capabilities, focus enterprise and address challenges in advanced manufacturing.

The $1bn (€760m) initiative announced by President Barack Obama in March 2012, and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) in Youngstown, Ohio, was the pilot centre that launched in August 2012.

More commonly known as 3D printing, the additive manufacturing industry is a “game changer” as far as efficiency because it reduces waste, Lambert said.

The technology allows a printer onboard a plane to make a part needed to make the plane fly, using precision to the nanometres but without five or six different manufacturers to make the part, he added.

With the launch of the pilot centre, the US government is looking at other advanced manufacturing technologies to explore.

Lambert said the DOD currently has six project ideas, from which it will pick two.

“We see materials will be at least one of them,” he said. “We’re trying to find a way to take metals and composites and join the two into more light-weight materials.”

After that, the department will solicit bids before contracts are awarded.

The sites for the future institutes will be decided in October or November, Lambert said.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Tracy Dang
+1 713 525 2653

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