On Friday, April 1, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA), Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the newest manufacturing innovation institute focused on revolutionary fibers and textiles. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) – a competitively-selected consortium of 89 companies, universities, non-profits, research organizations, and startup incubators nationwide – partnered to create the eighth institute in the growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The sixth of the institutes led by the DoD, this newest public-private partnership will focus on the manufacturing technologies that combine fibers and yarns with things like flexible integrated circuits, LEDs, solar cells, electronic sensors, and other capabilities to create advanced fabrics that can see, hear, sense, communicate, store energy, regulate temperature, monitor health, change color, and much more.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP) Mr. André Gudger and Principal Deputy Director Dr. Jerry McGinn attended the institute announcement and participated in demos. The evening prior, Dr. McGinn gave a few remarks to the team that facilitated the competition and selection process, commending them on their hard work and dedication to advancing technology in the manufacturing arena.
The DoD-sponsored manufacturing institutes are managed and funded out of the department’s ManTech program, overseen by MIBP. The five other institutes led by the DoD address additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing), digital manufacturing and design, lightweight metals, integrated photonics, and flexible hybrid electronics.
For more information, please see the White House fact sheet and the DoD press release.