May.10, 2013

The Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies: Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.

This effort is part of President Obama's proposed $1 billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country, after the initial success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio.

Each institute would serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between basic research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and community colleges, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S.

This type of innovation infrastructure provides a unique 'teaching factory' that allows 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.

The Department of Defense will lead two of the new Institutes, focused on "Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation" and "Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing", and the Department of Energy will be leading one new institute on "Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing".

All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts. Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year. Federal funds will be matched by industry co-investment, support from state and local governments, and other sources.

Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation

Advanced design and manufacturing tools that are digitally integrated and networked with supply chains can lead to 'factories of the future' forming an agile U.S. industrial base with significant speed to market advantage. This institute will focus on the development of novel model-based design methodologies, virtual manufacturing tools, and sensor and robotics based manufacturing networks.

Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing

Advanced lightweight metals possess mechanical and electrical properties comparable to traditional materials while enabling much lighter components and products. This institute will scale up research to accelerate market expansion for products such as wind turbines, medical devices, engines, armored combat vehicles, and airframes, and lead to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.

Next Generation Power Electronics

Wide bandgap semiconductor-based power electronic devices (WBG) represent the next major platform beyond the silicon-based devices that have driven major technological advances in the economy over the last several decades.

WBG semiconductors permit devices to operate at much higher temperatures, voltages, and frequencies, making the power electronic modules using these materials significantly more powerful and energy efficient than those made from conventional semiconductor materials.

In electronic devices, WBG semiconductors can eliminate up to 90% of the power losses that currently occur during AC-to-DC and DC-to-AC electricity conversion, and they can handle voltages more than 10 times higher than Si-based devices, greatly enhancing performance in high-power applications. says the DOE.

Wide bandgap technology will enable dramatically more compact and efficient power electronic devices for electric vehicles, renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors and a smarter more flexible grid; in addition to high-performance defense applications (e.g. reducing the size of a sub-station to a suit case).

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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