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From left, Tom Drye, managing Director of Techmer ES; Lonnie Love, Shelby Cobra 3D print designer and manufacturer at Oak Ridge National Lab; President Barack Obama; and Vice President Joe Biden admire a 3D printed Shelby Cobra at Techmer PM, a plastic fabrication company Friday in Clinton, Tenn., where the president talked about the administration's efforts to create new, good-paying manufacturing jobs.

The University of Tennessee will lead a new manufacturing institute dedicated to developing lighter weight and stronger materials for new manufacturing products.

President Barack Obama announced the institute Friday as the newest among what will eventually be 45 regional hubs being established across the country to promote 21st century manufacturing in America.

The Department of Energy's Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites in Knoxville will involve 122 partners, including Volkswagen of America.

"We're working to grow the jobs of tomorrow through a national network of manufacturing hubs," Obama said during a visit to the Knoxville institute. "The concept is simple: We bring businesses, research universities, community colleges, state, local and federal governments together, and we figure out where are some key opportunities for manufacturing in the future, how do we get out in front of the curve, how do we make sure everybody is working together."

With lighter and stronger materials, the White House said wind turbine manufacturers could build longer, lighter and stronger blades that create more energy. Automobile manufacturers could build passenger cars that are 50 percent lighter and use 35 percent less gasoline.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden viewed a 3D-printed Shelby Cobra made in Knoxville with advanced composites that cut its weight in half while improving performance and safety.

"We lost Joe's attention when we laid eyes on that 3-D-printed sports car -- the carbon Cobra," Obama said. "Biden started pulling out his aviator glasses and we had to explain to him, you don't get to drive on this trip."

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory created the design and the manufacturing processes. A Clinton, Tenn.-based company called Techmer produced the composite materials. Another local company called Tru-Design developed the surface finishing techniques. Undergraduate students from UT worked on the project.

Obama said the manufacturing hubs "create an ecosystem for a particular type of manufacturing and a specialization that allows where the hub is located to be a magnet for others who want to participate in this particular industry."

Volkswagen, which assembles its Passat cars in Chattanooga, is among those in the industry expected to benefit from the new institute.

"We will work with a variety of public and private partners to ultimately create jobs and boost global manufacturing competitiveness," said Mattias Erb, executive vice president of engineering and planning for Volkswagen of America.

The Knoxville institute is the fifth named institute in the White House plan announced last year for manufacturing innovation. The Department of Energy's manufacturing innovation institute award will provide $70 million of federal aid over five years, which will be combined with $189 million of contributions from six partner states and members, including VW.

Dr. Craig Blue, the chief executive for the new institute, said the research facility "brought together unprecedented commitment from state governments, industry and research institutions" to support the growing use of advanced polymer composites.

Obama said the United States has added 786,000 manufacturing jobs over the past 58 months -- the most since the 1990s. But the president said the U.S. must develop new and better technologies to stay ahead of global competitors and to create cleaner and better products in the future.

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