US: Ford’s new aluminum F-150 spurs federal lightweight materials project image

According to a statement by the White House, president Barack Obama will soon publicly announce a new $140 million project that aims to assist the development of new lightweight metals and materials.

While the project, named the Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation – or LM3I – is backed by the Defense Department, its location – suburban Detroit – hints at the primary beneficiary, the automakers.

The LM3I will get half of its funding from the federal reserve, while other sources would be used for the matching $70 million and will sign on 34 companies, 9 universities and 17 other groups – including ALCOA, GE, Honda, the Universities of Michigan and Kentucky, and the American Foundry Society.

“The long-term goal of the LM3I Institute will be to expand the market for and create new consumers of products and systems that utilize new, lightweight, high performing metals and alloys by removing technological barriers to their manufacture,” said the White House.

With a “focus on lightweight and modern metals manufacturing,” the new project is spot on the recent interests of the aerospace and automotive industries, which have turned their attention to the bigger usage of aluminum, titanium, high strength steel and carbon fiber.

Ford rocked the auto industry when they unveiled the new F-150, with the truck featuring extensive use of military grade aluminum – and it later disclosed it’s researching the use of the material on additional models in the future.