Friday, June 24, 2016

Detroit’s LIFT Gearing Up for Small and Mid-Sized Members

Do you ever wonder how the Federal Government can assist your company?  Or why the perks which seem to flow to major US corporations don’t trickle down to your business?  Well, times are changing and resources are available!  Two years ago, the National Network for Manufacturing Initiatives (NNMI) was formed to make sure that technology developed through defense and other government programs would reach small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs).

In Michigan, Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) - located on Rosa Parks Boulevard in Detroit - boasts 100,000 square feet of unique, manufacturing-scale capacity and focuses on supporting the transfer of new metal processing technology to commercial applications. Also housed within the facility is the Composites Institute, which is committed to commercializing lower cost carbon fiber and polymer composites.

To support SMMs, LIFT has established the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) as a key point of contact. MMTC is responsible for creating LIFT’s Technology Hotline and can be reached at 313-309-9159. The hotline focuses on providing technical expertise and answers to LIFT member questions regarding real time plant floor issues, new grades of lightweight materials - such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium and advanced high strength steels - and more. You can also access the Technology Hotline on the LIFT website: http://LIFT.TECHNOLOGY.

In July, LIFT will be hosting a SMM Member Technology Meeting. This meeting will focus not only on technical programs, but connecting SMMs to companies with complementary technologies and OEM’s with specific needs for process/technology for developmental programs. Some of the key areas in which LIFT and its member companies are focusing include:

  • Hot stamping of steel to achieve thinner, lighter weight components without sacrificing component strength
  • Investigating new techniques and new grades of steel
  • Developing casting processes in all materials, even iron, with thinner walls and less weight
  • Evaluating and developing new coatings for aluminum and other lightweight materials which will inhibit corrosion, create self-healing properties, or enhance cleaning operations
  • Identify new powder metal materials to improve part strength and consistency
  • Develop technologies which will improve agile manufacturing such as enhanced, non-destructive testing
  • Commercialize new technologies for welding, bonding and fastening similar and dis-similar materials (both metal and composites)

LIFT’s key to success is the composition of its innovative ecosystem. LIFT consists of working members from OEMs, suppliers, academia, research institutes, education, workforce development organizations, and professional societies. Some of the major corporate partners of LIFT include General Electric, Eaton, Alcoa, American Axel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Grede and Tenneco.  SMMs have a plethora of resources for finding projects and connections that will boost their technical capability and create new business opportunities.

Small and mid-sized manufacturers can also gain inclusion in LIFT programs through membership in the American Foundry Society, American Welding Society, North American Die Casting Association, ASM International, and Metal Powder Industry Federation.

Finally, one last tenet to LIFT’s mission is to develop workforce programs assuring students and workers who are receiving training today, are up to speed on the latest technologies that impact (or will be impacted) by the lightweighting trend. They are partnering with states throughout the Midwest to assist Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs. They are also working with community colleges to offer a pipeline for trained students to enter the workforce and for member companies to identify potential skilled employees.

To learn more about how the automotive and other industries are exploiting the use of lightweight materials to meet CAFÉ and other standards, you’re invited to attend the Global Advanced Lightweight Materials conference August 23-25, 2016. Held at Cobo Center in Detroit, this conference will feature speakers from automotive OEM’s, TARDEC, Tier Ones and other suppliers. Use the MMTC code ‘MMTC20’ to get a 20% discount on registrations. For more information about this event visit 

For more details regarding LIFT memberships and programs, visit http://LIFT.TECHNOLOGY or contact the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center 
at 734-451-4285.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully 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

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