Tennessee to host manufacturing hub

January 06, 2015 - 06:00pm

The University of Tennessee—Knoxville, a longstanding member of the Council on Competitiveness, was selected by the White House to lead a public-private partnership of 122 leading companies, universities, research laboratories and non-profits that will create a $250 million manufacturing innovation hub.  

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing is the latest in a series of manufacturing hubs that make up the President's National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).  

President Obama made the announcement at Techmer PM's East Tennessee plastics manufacturing plant. The focus of the new hub is advanced composites manufacturing, combining strong fibers with tough plastics. While advanced composites are lighter and stronger than steel and are currently used for expensive applications like satellites and luxury vehicles, bringing down the cost would allow for their use in a broader range of applications such as lighter-weight, more fuel-efficient cars; lighter and longer wind turbine blades; and more efficient industrial equipment.  

The Institute is supported by a $70 million federal Energy Department investment, combined with more than $180 million in private sector funds. The partners include U.S. manufacturers, universities, national laboratories and non-profits. They include Council members Lockheed Martin, GE Power & Water, Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

"We are excited to see the results that will come from bringing together so many leading businesses and organizations," said Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president & CEO of the Council on Competitiveness. "This new hub will unite manufacturers with top-tier research universities such as the University of Tennessee with its pioneering 3D printed carbon fiber research. The combined resources and expertise of the team will catalyze a leap forward in composite manufacturing and further enhance U.S. competitiveness in clean energy technology." 

This newest public-private innovation hub in Tennessee is the next phase of President Obama's vision for a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes across the U.S. The pilot institute is headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, and is focused on reducing the cost of 3D printing metal by a factor of four, connecting small businesses with new opportunities and partnering to provide more than 1,000 schools with access to 3D printers.

Related Glossary Terms

  • composites


    Materials composed of different elements, with one element normally embedded in another, held together by a compatible binder.


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