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Manufacturing Hub LIFT Announces First Project

By Bill Koenig
Senior Editor

A Detroit-based group that’s part of an initiative of the Obama administration to speed development of advanced manufacturing announced its first project.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, or LIFT, said the $1.34 million project will look at iron alloys, with the goal of reducing the metal used to produce automotive parts.

Grede Holdings LLC, a Southfield, MI-based supplier of metal components to the auto industry, and Michigan Technological University will be the lead partners on the project, LIFT said in an e-mailed statement.

LIFT is part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, or NMMI. The institutes that comprise NMMI have industrial and academic members, which are supposed to work together to find new processes and technology for manufacturing.

LIFT had its formal opening in January and is charged with finding ways to make vehicles lighter. The auto industry is under regulatory pressure to improve fuel efficiency, spurring automakers to seek ways to cut vehicle weight.

The Detroit institute receives funding from the US Defense Department. The federal government will pay about 44% of the cost of the iron alloy project, with the rest paid by industry and research partners.

Officials of LIFT were not immediately available for comment. Larry Brown, the group’s executive director, said in the statement the project should yield results in about a year.

“We expect that by working together through LIFT, the collaborators from industrial and academic will be able to accelerate the speed of turning their R&D into a production line process,” Brown said in the statement.

LIFT said “there is potential” to reduce the wall thickness of iron parts by up to 50%, which could cut weight of such parts by 30% to 50%.

Other partners in the project include Eaton Corp., the American Foundry Society and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Published Date : 7/7/2015

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