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Purdue Research Foundation greenlights construction of $50M research institute for composite materials

Purdue Research Foundation Board of Directors recently approved construction of the $50-million, 62,000-square-foot Indiana Manufacturing Institute, where Purdue University researchers will expand research of composite materials manufacturing.

Purdue is a recognized leader in composite materials, and the research that will be carried out in this new facility will advance this important technology for the new industries developing in Indiana. Advanced composite materials have broad, proven applications because of their lightweight properties and unusually high stiffness and strength. The Boeing 787 commercial airplane is a wonderful example of what this technology can achieve.

These materials are used to make lighter-weight automotive vehicles, aircraft, wind turbines, natural gas storage tanks and other products. Our primary goals in this research include the design and simulation of the manufacturing processes, validation of simulation at the lab scale, 3-D printing of composites and development of recycling uses of leftover materials.

—R. Byron Pipes, the John Leighton Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Purdue and director for the new Purdue/state of Indiana center

The Purdue Research Park-based institute will engage Purdue faculty, including about 10 engineers and a number of graduate students, to work in the research areas that will initially occupy up to 30,000 square feet in the new park facility.

The institute will lease space in the new building, as will industries that wish to locate near this new enterprise. In partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, an expenditure of almost $35 million in research equipment and materials in the institute is expected over the next five years, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy. Purdue Research Foundation will invest $15 million in the construction of the building, which will be located at the corner of Kalberer and Yeager roads on property that is partly owned by the City of West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission and is being donated to the Purdue Research Foundation by the commission. The foundation already owns the remainder of the land for the development.

The new institute is slated to open in 2016 and is part of a $259-million five-year national initiative called the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). The institute is funded through $70 million from the Department of Energy and $189 million pledged by industry, states and universities. The goal is to develop the manufacturing technology for more energy-efficient vehicles, compressed-gas storage and wind energy systems.

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