ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 24, 2016) -- The White House announced a new manufacturing innovation center in Massachusetts April 1.
In partnership with the Department of Defense, a consortium of 89 manufacturers, universities and non-profits organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will spearhead a new manufacturing innovation institute, according to a White House press release.
The Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Institute for Manufacturing Innovation Hub will focus on "securing U.S. leadership in revolutionary fibers and textiles manufacturing," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced at a ceremony at MIT's Sandberg Conference Center.
DOD's Manufacturing Technology Program, known as ManTech, asked Army scientist Dr. Shawn Walsh to serve as a subject matter expert in the vision development, scope and ultimate recommendations for the initiative.
Walsh works at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory on Soldier armor and protection. His early and pioneering work in smart textiles resulted in a patent and unique manufacturing advances in helmet and body armor technologies.
"I'm honored to have been invited to serve in an advisory capacity in this new enterprise," Walsh said. "I hope to play a critical role that will augment the laboratory's Materials Science Campaign and other areas that are vital to expanding Soldier protection and capability."
The new hub will combine more than $75 million of federal resources with nearly $250 million of non-federal investment in innovative fabrics and textiles with novel properties ranging from being extremely lightweight and flame resistant, to having exceptional strength and containing electronic sensors, according to the news release.
Future textiles may be useful in making firefighters impervious to the hottest flames, or replicate advanced sensing capabilities into a lightweight fabric.
"With these technologies, we may be able to detect when a wounded Soldier needs to be treated with an antimicrobial compression bandage or steer parachutes by actively changing their permeability," Walsh said. "Our participation in this endeavor will ensure that the Army will have access to state of the art and breakthrough materials."
Walsh said ARL colleagues like Drs. Eric Wetzel, Emil Sandoz-Rosado, Jennifer Sietins and Lionel Vargas-Gonzalez are pioneering new research efforts that could benefit from and expand impact of the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles IMI impetus to create new materials, processes and opportunities for American fibers and textiles.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.