President Obama has announced the new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.
President Obama has announced the new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.

This follows on from the success of 3D printing manufacturing institute America Makes, which was launched in 2013.

The institute is supported by a consortium of 122 companies, including Dow, GE and Toray, nonprofits, universities and research laboratories such as Oak Ridge and the University of Kentucky and the U.S. Department of Energy.

It will focus on cutting-edge research on advanced composites, such as carbon fiber, with a focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites, which combine strong fibers with tough plastics and are lighter and stronger than steel. 

Bringing these materials down the cost curve can enable their use for a broader range of products including lightweight vehicles with record-breaking fuel economy; lighter and longer wind turbine blades; high pressure tanks for natural gas-fueled cars; and lighter, more efficient industrial equipment, according to the Department of Energy. 

Clean energy

Advanced composites are especially important for progressing clean energy generation and improving the efficiency of the nation’s fleet.

In automotive applications, advanced composites could reduce the weight of a passenger car by 50% and improve its fuel efficiency by roughly 35% without compromising performance or safety.

The aim is for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) to work to develop lower-cost, higher-speed, and more efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for advanced composites. It will also focus on lowering the overall manufacturing costs of advanced composites by 50%, reducing the energy used to make composites by 75% and increasing the recyclability of composites to over 95% within the next decade.