Source: IACMI | April 21, 2016

Craig Blue propels advanced manufacturing collaboration during U.S. Senate hearing

In a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday, April 12, IACMI-The Composites Institute CEO, Craig Blue highlighted IACMI initiatives and the promising impact it will have on society and the economy as a result of projects designed to enhance energy productivity, reduce lifecycle energy consumption, and increase domestic production capacity.

Opening remarks, presented by Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Lisa Murkowski, emphasized the importance of advanced manufacturing as it employs nearly 24 million people, approximately 13 percent of the U.S. workforce. Along with Dr. Blue, the highly esteemed panel was comprised of Dr. Leo Christodoulou, Director, Engineering, Materials and Structure at Boeing; Doug Ward, Director of Shipyard Development at Vigor Alaska; Dr. David Williams, Dean of College of Engineering at The Ohio State University; and The Honorable Deborah L. Wince-Smith, President and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness. Each panelist presented a short, five-minute testimony before proceeding to the open Q&A style discussion.

The idea of closing the gap between research laboratories and the marketplace was raised by Senator Cory Gardner. “The best transfer method is people,” said Dr. Blue. “The vast majority of projects we [IACMI] are executing are industry driven projects. Industry understands manufacturing challenges.  Government can catalyze and bring the Universities, National Laboratories and Industry to rapidly address challenges. Bringing basic to applied research together enables rapid deployment of technology. “With collaboration, the resources you need across the supply chain to cross the threshold into commercialization are there.” Blue goes on to note the success of the 3D printed Shelby Cobra, developed at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) by a largely integrated team, as a prime example of bringing R&D innovation to the crossroads of commercialization.

Dr. Blue was addressed during the discussion segment regarding wind turbine technology and development in reference to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the base for one of IACMI’s five technical focus areas. Blue outlined the premise of one of NREL’s first projects in conjunction with IACMI to be the scale-up of innovative thermoplastic technologies, geared toward the entire supply chain and focused on increasing the recyclability of composites. The emphasis on bridging the gap between research and commercialization was highlighted by Blue, stating “They [IACMI/NREL] have a keen focus on lowering costs by increasing wing capture, working hand in hand with industry to actually take technology out of the lab and onto the manufacturing floor.”

Additional coverage of the Senate testimony can be found on The Ohio State website,  Senator Cantwell’s commentary and on Senator Murkowki’s website noting her speculation that Advanced Manufacturing Holds “Unprecedented Opportunities” for the U.S.