The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced numerous grants to universities and nonprofit organizations, totaling $9 million, designed to support research that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing and innovation performance. Four of these grants were awarded to teams from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), where Dr. Chuck Zhang will work with the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute team to help speed the development and deployment of advanced composites. The grants are the first conferred by NIST’s inaugural Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech). Each consortium will engage manufacturers of all sizes, university researchers, trade associations and other stakeholders to identify and prioritize research projects to help reduce shared barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. Dr. Zhang gave Composites Manufacturing Interviews his exclusive viewpoint on how these consortia and their research can help the composites industry grow.
What types of projects will you complete as part of your grant to benefit the composites industry?
The U.S. composite industry faces several system-wide challenges, including developing: 1) affordable, scalable, predictable and reproducible composite manufacturing capabilities; 2) methods for quick and reliable repair and joining; 3) standardized approaches and tools to composite design and testing; and 4) more effective means of recycling and reuse. The NIST AMTech Award will assist the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) in developing an industry-led Consortium for Accelerated Innovation and Insertion of Advanced Composites (CAIIAC). We propose to develop an objective, verifiable and consistent roadmap to identify and validate emerging crosscutting lightweight composite technologies that offer benefits across multiple industries. The Consortium will generate and prioritize major technical projects to address these technical gaps and challenges and others to be included in the Consortium’s technology roadmap. CAIIAC members will select project teams of best-in-class experts to tackle technical projects. In order to effectively evaluate technical projects, we will incorporate and institutionalize an “xRL” scheme that will include Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL), Business Case Readiness Levels (BcRL) and Ecosystem Readiness Levels (ERL) across all project teams.