The special interest program on lightweight materials featured a keynote address on the establishment of the government/industry consortium LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow). The program also included reports on developments in Al-based MMCs and Al-based transition metal alloys.

As was the case for the special interest program on electrification, the special interest program on Lightweight Materials was also related to ongoing issues in transportation. The keynote speaker was Dr. Alan Taub (Fig. 1), retired Vice-President of Global R&D at General Motors, who is now professor of materials science and engineering at University of Michigan and also Chief Technical Officer with the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, otherwise known as LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow), and located in Detroit, MI.

Taub began by explaining the rationale for LIFT, and introducing the Institute which was now beginning its fourth year, fully operational and very active in powders. He said it was the drastic loss of manufacturing jobs in the 2008 recession, particularly in the US Mid-west that woke up the administration and Congress to what could be done to promote US manufacturing competitiveness. This led to the creation of innovation institutes that could fill the gap that had arisen between universities and national labs on the one hand and company R&D activities on the other. This was a role formerly played by the large corporate laboratories (e.g. at GM, IBM, Ford Motor, etc.). So the role of the innovation institutes was to be able to take break-throughs and inventions from the universities and national labs and develop them for companies to pick up. These public/private partnerships required at least one-to-one cost matching from the private sector. Taub said LIFT got $70 million from federal funding and raised nearly $80 million from companies. 

This article appeared in the Sept/Oct issue of Metal Powder Report. Log in to your free profile to access this article.

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