Goal: Launch an industry-led polymer composites consortium and develop a technology roadmap that identifies shared technical obstacles and defines pathways toward manufacturing advances that will enable scale-up of cost-effective, high-volume production processes.
Lead: University of Massachusetts Lowell
600 Suffolk St.
Lowell, MA 01854
Award Number: 70NANB14H057
Federal Funding: $496,439
Project Duration: 18 months
With commitments from 44 companies, five universities, and eight other organizations, the University of Massachusetts Lowell will launch the Facilitating Industry by Engineering, Roadmapping and Science (FIBERS) Consortium. Immediate goals of the FIBERS Consortium are to develop a detailed technology roadmap for polymer composites manufacturing; establish a deep shared understanding of critical manufacturing challenges; and initiate sustained efforts to tackle these challenges. Ultimate goals are for current and prospective consortium members to work collaboratively to improve the functionality and reliability of composites, introduce automation to enable high-volume production, and reduce the overall cost of the materials.
Now a $20 billion global industry, composites manufacturing is forecast to grow at rates that outpace growth in the global domestic product over the next decade. Advantages of the materials include weight and energy savings, lower maintenance costs, and greater design flexibility. Unfortunately, these advantages often are overshadowed by the high cost of the materials (due largely to manufacturing limitations) and manufacturing cycle time and yield. Processes are difficult to scale up and usually are implemented through trial-and-error approaches. While U.S. universities and government laboratories conduct basic research on composite materials, far less effort is devoted to capitalizing on this work and translating it into commercial production technologies. Nations with industries that succeed in increasing the scale and improving the repeatability of manufacturing processes, thereby reducing costs and improving material reliability, will be best positioned in a promising global market.
For project information: Christine Gillette, (978) 934-3224, christine_gillette [at] uml.edu
AMTech Project Manager: Jean-Louis Staudenmann, (301) 975-4866, jean-louis.staudenmann [at] nist.gov