Louisiana has been awarded a five-year, $20M award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to transform research and education in advanced manufacturing and materials throughout the State by establishing the Louisiana Materials Design Alliance (LAMDA). Researchers will be designing complex alloys and polymers specifically for 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. There is a huge demand in the additive manufacturing industry for new 3D printing materials to produce metal and plastic products with fewer defects and a longer useful life. Louisiana researchers will use advanced machine learning to study the characteristics of novel materials and test how they react under pressure and heat during the manufacturing process.
“This project is an excellent example of research addressing key knowledge gaps in an area of focus for the nation,” said NSF Established Program to Stimulate Collaborative Research (EPSCoR) director Ann Stapleton. “The team’s research on improved prediction of material performance in additive manufacturing will be fully integrated with coursework, testbed development and workforce development activities. The team will receive extensive feedback from key industry leaders. This project is a superb example of synergistic, inter-related research and educational activities that support a larger national scientific priority area.”
Coordinated by the Louisiana Board of Regents, LAMDA institutions—Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, Southern University, Tulane University, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette— will ensure the sustainability of these accomplishments by strategic faculty hiring and expanding the experimental resources housed within the statewide core user facilities available to Louisiana institutions and industry.
“We are delighted that NSF has recognized the immense value of the collaborative work of researchers across Louisiana institutions, public and private, around cutting-edge manufacturing,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “The project’s dual emphasis on research and education ensures the broadest possible reach of the work, as we develop the knowledge needed by industry users as well as the talent needed to support widespread adoption.”
LAMDA leverages previous NSF investments in advanced manufacturing and materials as well as the State’s investments in cyberinfrastructure and human resources. LAMDA will lay the foundation for smart additive manufacturing process monitoring and create new knowledge linking complex materials structures to their mechanical and functional performance.
“We believe NSF’s announcement of funding for LAMDA will be a game-changer for our state, fueling industry innovation as we look to the post-COVID era and expand our manufacturing capacity and capabilities,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “Louisiana looks forward to leading the science, education and training efforts to build manufacturing for the 21st century and we are grateful that this investment will accelerate our work.”
The major outcomes of this project will be a materials design framework guided by machine learning, a framework to assess structural integrity, and a diverse and highly skilled STEM workforce for Louisiana. “This five-year initiative will propel the State to a leadership role in additive manufacturing materials research and education in the United States, building a bridge between researchers developing materials and efficient manufacturing methods and small and large end-users in industry scaling up 3D printing technologies to bring products to the marketplace,” said Michael Khonsari, Board of Regents’ Associate Commissioner for Research and Louisiana EPSCoR Project Director.