NIST Awards $498,000 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grant to UMaine Composites Center

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center has received a $497,965 award from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology for mapping technical manufacturing challenges in structural thermoplastic materials.

UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, in collaboration with Celanese Corporation, Eastman Chemical Company, Polystrand and Royal TenCate, will launch CMIST — the Consortium for Manufacturing Innovation in Structural Thermoplastics. Working groups of material scientists, product developers, manufacturers and potential end users will identify, characterize and map technical challenges to the adoption of thermoplastic composite materials as substitutions in primary structural applications, allowing U.S. manufacturers to bring solutions to market first.

Low in cost and weight, recyclable and corrosion resistant, thermoplastic composite materials are strong enough to be used as a substitute in many primary structural applications, including ones in which aluminum once replaced steel in aircraft and automobiles. Such substitution has the potential to transform manufacturing. Global manufacturing competitiveness, historically dictated by raw-material costs and labor, can instead be dictated by efficiency, knowledge and smart manufacturing. U.S. manufacturers intending to benefit from such a transformation face two challenges: technical issues and competitive market threats. Technical issues include: realizing faster manufacturing cycle times; developing fast and reliable thermoplastic joining methods; and characterizing thermoplastic composites for desired performance and economical manufacturing. The vision and applied research that results from this planning mission will help U.S. manufacturers bring their products to market faster and in advance of global competition.

UMaine’s award is part of the $7.8 million in NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology Planning Grants. More about the NIST Awards is online.

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