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LIFT’s Detroit research center opened in 2015, and includes an industrial workspace and “Learning Lab,” and a satellite location in Sterling Heights, Mich.

LIFT and DoD Renew Research Co-Op

May 17, 2023
The U.S.-backed public-private R&D partnership will continue its materials, process, and talent development efforts for five years under a $49-million agreement.

The LIFT manufacturing research center renewed its partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program in a $49.4-million agreement that will provide government sponsorship over the next five years.

The “Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow” program is a public-private partnership between the DoD and multiple industrial organizations and research institutions that was established in 2014 to foster research and development in manufacturing with practical applications for defense programs. It is operated by the Detroit-based American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII.)

LIFT’s research activities cover materials, processes, systems, and talent, and its industrial partners include numerous defense sector manufacturers and their suppliers. Individual research projects have focused on additive manufacturing, forming, and joining.

According to its statement, LIFT’s new agreement will allow it to continue its focus on “materials and manufacturing technologies to advance the systems engineering approach needed for the design, build, test, and manufacture of components.” And it requires LIFT to continue its “focus on advanced materials, manufacturing process, systems engineering and the integration of materials characterization, captured through computational tools, such as Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) across different materials applications to benefit the DoD and the national industrial manufacturing base.”

Ongoing research by LIFT partners includes work on DoD’s “hypersonics challenge” project, to evaluate and demonstrate the industrial maturity for process monitoring methods for several additive manufacturing technologies under consideration for hypersonic metallic structures.

Past LIFT research efforts have involved metalcasting processes like thin-wall iron casting, vacuum-aided aluminum diecasting; and formation of aluminum-lithium alloys. LIFT and its partners have also worked to scale-up a process for producing aluminum-based nanocomposite material, and to develop process technologies for large, single-piece castings with stiffness and fatigue strength.

“Our continued partnership with the Dept. of Defense solidifies LIFT as a national asset and the national hub for the design, development, verification and validation of advanced materials and manufacturing processes,” according to CEO and executive director Nigel Francis. “The challenges we are addressing from manufacturing technology and talent perspectives can only truly be addressed through public-private partnerships like we operate here at LIFT and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together over the next five years.”