Advanced Materials Industry Shows Growth in US Markets

Advanced Materials are critical to today’s intelligent industrial marketplace, and the growth of the global economy. This is not a controversial take, but what is exciting to see is that companies all over the US are seeing the demand for advanced materials manufacturing and are expanding, growing and investing to meet the current and coming needs. 

As has been the case for nearly a century, innovation is happening in space. In February, the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory began soliciting flight projects for in-space production applications focused on advanced materials and manufacturing. The deadline for conceptual summaries was in early April, and the Lab is expecting full proposals by June 19. These proposals will be plans to use the orbiting laboratory to advance or create advanced materials applications that can “bring value to humanity and enable business models in space,” the release said

The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) through a Cooperative Agreement with NASA. The program called for in-orbit flight investigations that demonstrate space-based manufacturing and production activities, with an eye toward enabling new business growth and capital investment. They should represent scalable and sustainable market opportunities, and produce recurring value with the potential to generate demand for and revenue from access to space. Although this call for proposals will almost certainly reveal innovative industrial solutions and exciting new technologies, the most interesting bit is that this call is going out right now. That would seem to indicate that the leaders in the science and engineering fields see the potential for this kind of technology, and they’re not alone. 

In the US southeast, Hanwha Advanced Materials Georgia, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Hanwha Group, a major global manufacturing company and a manufacturer of lightweight advanced materials for sustainable technology, has announced plans to open a manufacturing facility in Cartersville, Georgia. The company reportedly will spend about $147 million on the plant, which will supply a Qcells facility in the Bartow County community, and will create an estimated 160 jobs. 

Qcells is another South Korean company, manufacturing photovoltaic solar cells. Also in Georgia, Qcells has set itself to spend more than $2.5 billion to build a new facility of its own in Cartersville, creating 2,000 jobs, and add a third plant to its Dalton location, creating 510 new jobs.

Up north, in Alfred, NY, Lambda Advanced Materials reportedly is planning to build an advanced materials research and manufacturing facility to produce ceramics materials for use in alternative energy solutions. This also represents the first time in 20 years that a new manufacturer is moving into that area of Alfred Station. The site is 30 acres and very close to the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, which is no coincidence. The release indicates the company plans to work closely with the university to provide internship and employment opportunities to students.

In the announcement, Lambda said the site will be focused on optimizing materials processing through energy efficiency, a lower carbon footprint, and decreased costs. It plans to manufacture and supply advanced ceramic materials and, according to the release, hopes to begin operations in the summer of 2024.

Further west, in Tennessee, Steward Advanced Materials, one of Chattanooga’s oldest companies, has announced a plan to grow its manufacturing footprint and bolster the size of its workforce as it brings back technology it has been buying from outside the US. The planned new building will reportedly be 30,000- to 40,000-square-feet, and will go up right behind its existing 200,000-square-foot facility. Steward produces metal and ceramic powders used in aerospace, automobile and other applications, and the new facility will likely provide several new jobs to the area. 

Aside from being an interesting data set that indicates expected growth in the advanced materials industry, there are a few other bits of intelligence we might be able to glean. Three of the four examples here are directly focused on sustainability and alternative energy, with the fourth making ceramics materials that will certainly be used in those areas. Moreover, despite two of the companies we looked at being headquartered or owned by non-American companies, each seems to be bringing more capability inside US borders, perhaps because they are trying to insulate themselves against future supply chain disruptions.

Speculations aside, the outlook is bright, and rest assured, we’ll be looking at these stories and the entire advance materials manufacturing space for some time to come. 

Ken Briodagh

Ken Briodagh is Executive Editor of The Frontier Hub. He loves all forms of storytelling, from IoT technology to live events to content marketing strategy that creates brand loyal fans. Ken has been leading industries and brands through story for more than a decade, creating millions in value and growth. He's also founder and Chief Storyteller at Briodagh Consulting, a poet, pretend potentate, & partial alliterist. He lives in Connecticut with his family, two cats, a turtle, and a dog.

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