FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2014
By Eric Beidel
ARLINGTON, Va.— The Office of Naval Research (ONR) will manage a new institute to spur innovation, manufacturing and implementation of lightweight and modern metals—part of a White House initiative announced Feb. 25 that aims to strengthen national defense and U.S. manufacturing through public and private partnerships.
Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s ManTech Program and private resources and based in southeastern Michigan, the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I) Institute is made up of public and private organizations dedicated to bridging the gap between basic research and full-scale production. This institute will be developing the kinds of materials that can make an armored vehicle strong enough to withstand a bomb blast yet light enough to be carried on a helicopter.
“Our first job is to get the best technology into the hands of our warfighters, and naval researchers have long recognized that lightweight and modern metals can increase performance, energy efficiency and lifecycle cost savings for military hardware,” Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said. “Improvements in the manufacturing processes for these materials will only expand these benefits.”
The LM3I Institute will focus its activities around four main goals:
• Mature and demonstrate production scale-up of existing, innovative, lightweight and modern metals;
• Shorten the time necessary to design, integrate and evaluate new, affordable metals, including lightweight alloys and next-generation metals;
• Develop more affordable, competitive, automated manufacturing processes relevant to lightweight and modern metals; and
• Develop the tools, skills and knowledge base within the materials design and manufacturing workforce to take advantage of advances made possible by the LM3I Institute.
The consortium will include Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, university laboratories, state governments and professional societies already supporting both defense and commercial applications across the aerospace, automotive, shipbuilding, rail and heavy manufacturing industries. They work with a range of metals and alloys including high-strength steels, aluminum, magnesium and titanium.
As the executive agent for the project, ONR will work closely with the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), the newly formed nonprofit selected to lead the initiative in Michigan. ALMMII is expected to open a headquarters facility in the Metro Detroit area in the spring.
“This initiative bridges a critical gap between initial early research and industry development,” said Dr. Julie Christodoulou, director of the Naval Materials Division in ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, which is executing this effort. “Investing in this ‘missing middle’ piece provides the physical and intellectual workspace to accelerate technology transition for national defense and the strength of the commercial sector.”
Christodoulou has a track record of helping to lead White House initiatives to speed the advancement of new materials. She previously was selected to be a deputy co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee for the Materials Genome Initiative.
The LM3I/ALMMII effort is one of two new institutes announced as additions to the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation. The other, also led by the Department of Defense, is based in Illinois and will focus on digital manufacturing and design innovation.
Eric Beidel is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.