National Network for Manufacturing Innovation Brings Technology to Michigan


Where do you go for help regarding new, lightweight materials? Who is really working on the
materials and processes to create future vehicles and products which are lightweight, sustainable, and affordable?  How can I position my company for growth as the lightweight trend goes from being a gentle wave to a tsunami?

Two new Detroit-based organizations are preparing to become leaders in developing and implementing lightweight technologies. Their focus will be on Tier Two and Tier Three companies to deliver the parts and services to accomplish the aggressive lightweighting goals set by the auto industry.

Meet the Lightweighting Players
The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) will impact Michigan manufacturing technology in the next 10 years.  Currently, eight Innovation Centers are found around the country, with the majority located in the Great Lakes Region.  Michigan is fortunate to have two centers in Detroit:

LIFT focuses on materials including steel, aluminum, iron, magnesium, and titanium, as well as processes such as casting, stamping, powder metal forming, welding and bonding. These initiatives are critical to meeting industry and consumers needs for lightweight, efficient and sustainable vehicles, transportation, and products.

LIFT was founded by Ohio-based manufacturing technology non-profit Edison Welding Institute, the University of Michigan, and Ohio State University. These three founding partners with their track record of successful technology development and collaboration have joined together to power the LIFT consortium. These founding entities have enlisted the support of others including Purdue University, University of Kentucky, Colorado School of Mines, and University of Tennessee. LIFT, already a recipient of $70 million in Federal funds, also has developed more than $80 million in support from corporate partners like Alcoa, Boeing, GE, Eaton, Lockheed Martin, Grede, Johnson Controls, and ITW.

With $70M in Federal funds and about double in corporate funding, IACMI will soon be a juggernaut in the race to develop low cost/high productivity advanced composite materials and processes. Major universities supporting IACMI, led by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, include the University of Tennessee, Michigan State University, Purdue University, University of Kentucky, and University of Dayton Research Institute. Corporate sponsors include DowAksa, Ford, Dassault Systemes, Lockheed Martin, BASF, GE, Honda, Huntsman and many others. Michigan State University’s effort will focus on low cost materials and processes producing high volume components for the automotive industry.  IACMI’s facility will feature large scale composite parts production equipment.

Both of the Michigan-based Innovation Centers will have full scale manufacturing capability in a shared building on Rosa Parks Blvd in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

Benefits of IACMI & LIFT Memberships
What can a membership in IACMI or LIFT do for your company? Benefits include:

  • An opportunity to propose or participate in significant technical projects.
  • Regular briefings on technical topics and project updates.
  • Ability to present or exhibit to major OEM’s at annual meetings at low or no cost.
  • An invitation to attend all member conferences.
  • A help desk for access to process and materials experts at LIFT.
  • Access to professional and skilled labor talent through workforce initiatives.
  • Significant online resources available to members only.
  • Networking opportunities with small manufacturing enterprises, equipment manufacturers, and OEM decision makers.
  • Marketing your company’s capabilities.
  • Knowledge of current supply chain and industry trends.

Make the Connection
Memberships for small manufacturing enterprises (less than 500 employees) are in the $2000 to $4000 range, the equivalent of what a company will spend to exhibit at an out of town trade show. A great investment in our opinion.

Although major corporations are the primary funding sources, smaller companies will find the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) playing a key role in connecting these new, national organizations to the medium and small sized manufacturers. An MMTC representative can help you learn more about these beneficial, market resources. For more information, contact MMTC at 888.414.6682, visit or email

Both organizations are about a year into their start-up phase and have just begun soliciting project proposals. You can learn more about them on their websites,  and

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Innovation, MEP National Network, Technology