February 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

White House to unveil manufacturing institute headquartered in Canton

Washington — President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday a more than $140 million new Department of Defense-backed manufacturing institute in Wayne County to speed development of lightweight materials across a number of industries — one of two new federal efforts to boost the manufacturing sector.

The White House said Saturday Obama will announce a Canton Township headquartered consortium of businesses and universities "with a focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing." He will also announce a Chicago headquartered consortium of businesses and universities that will concentrate on digital manufacturing and design technologies.

The Michigan effort will get $70 million in federal support, matched by more than $70 million non-federal, as will the Chicago institute. The White House didn't immediately offer an estimate on how many jobs the projects might create.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan praised the selection of the Detroit area for the new institute.

“The president's selection of the Detroit area for the new Lightweight Modern Metals institute is great news for our city and our region. We are especially glad that Focus:Hope is a key member of the consortium because it means Detroiters will be among the first in the world to develop the skills needed to manufacture these lightweight metals,” Duggan said Saturday.

“I look forward to working with the consortium to make sure as much work as possible is done in the city of Detroit in order to maximize the job opportunities available to Detroiters,” the mayor said.

The new project called the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation – or LM3I – will be headquartered in western Wayne County and led by Ohio-based EWI, a company that develops and applies manufacturing technology innovation within the manufacturing industry.

It brings together a 60-member consortium that will pair leading aluminum, titanium, and high strength steel manufacturers with universities and laboratories pioneering new technology development and research. “The long-term goal of the LM3I Institute will be to expand the market for and create new consumers of products and systems that utilize new, lightweight, high performing metals and alloys by removing technological barriers to their manufacture,” the White House said.

The Institute will seek to achieve this through leadership in pre-competitive advanced research and partnerships across defense, aerospace, automotive, energy, and consumer products industries. The White House noted that lightweight and modern metals are utilized in a vast array of commercial products, from automobiles, to machinery and equipment, to marine craft and aircraft. "These ultra-light and ultra-strong materials improve the performance, enhance the safety, and boost the energy and fuel efficiency of vehicles and machines," the White House said.

Automakers are using both light weight steel and a growing amount of high-strength aluminum in new vehicles. The White House said the Department of Defense will benefit from the research since "lightweight and modern metals will strengthen our defense capabilities, like enabling the creation of armored vehicles strong enough to withstand a roadside bomb but light enough for helicopter-transport."

The announcement fulfills Obama's pledge in his 2013 State of the Union to establish three new manufacturing innovation institutes from existing resources.

In May, the White House launched competitions for the three institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five agencies – the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.

Last month, the first of these three institutes was announced, the new Department of Energy-led Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Raleigh, N.C.

Each institute serves as a regional hub, seeking to bridge the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.

Obama wants a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes, but needs approval and funding from Congress. In July 2013, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Reps. Tom Reed, (R-NY) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA) co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in both the Senate and House that would create a network for manufacturing innovation led by the Department of Commerce consistent with the president’s vision, helping the United States to take advantage of this unique opportunity to accelerate growth and innovation in domestic production and create the foundation for well-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class. The President will continue to work with Congress to get legislation passed while continuing to make progress where he can to boost these partnerships that are important to revitalizing our manufacturing sector.

The Michigan consortium includes 34 companies, 9 universities and 17 other groups. They are:

34 companies: ABS, AEM, ALCOA Technology, Boeing, Comau, Easom Automation, EWI, Fabrisonic, Flash Bainite Steel, GE, Honda North American Services, Huys, Infinium, Inc., Innovative Weld Solutions, ITW, Lockheed Martin, Luvata, Materion, MesoCoat, MTI, NanoSteel Company, Optomec, Phoenix Integration, PowderMet, RealWeld, RTI International Metals, SaCell, Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), Steel Warehouse Co., ThermoCalc, TIMET, Trumpf, Inc., UTRC, Wolf Robotics

9 universities: Colorado School of Mines, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Tennessee, Wayne State University

17 other groups: American Foundry Society, American Welding Society, ASM International, CAR, Columbus State Community College, Conexus Indiana, DET NORSKE VERITAS, Focus Hope, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Ivy Tech, Macomb Community College, MAGNET, Pellissippi State Community College, State of Kentucky, State of Michigan, State of Ohio, Southeast Michigan Workforce Intelligence Network.

A Michigan company and university are involved in the other institute being announced Tuesday.

The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute seeks to reshape how manufacturing is being transformed by digital design and includes more than 70 companies, universities and other groups.

It will be led by UI Labs and includes Midland-based Dow Chemical Co .and the University of Michigan.

dshepardson @detroitnews.com