LIFT, Department of Defense Award Hypersonics Challenge Project to ATC Materials in High-Temperature Composite Manufacturing

Project will explore near-net-shape manufacture of radio-frequency materials for hypersonics. 

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense manufacturing innovation institute, along with the Department of Defense (DoD), today announced their awarding of one of the institute’s Hypersonics Challenge projects to ATC Materials, Inc. to demonstrate the repeatable and reliable production of their RIPS molded radio frequency (RF) material.

Earlier this year, LIFT and the DoD announced a nationwide Hypersonics Challenge, seeking proposals on three specific topics critical to the materials science and manufacture process of hypersonic vehicles. Operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher, hypersonic, and counter-hypersonic vehicles are among the Department of Defense’s top priorities, as well as the development of a safe and secure domestic supply base.

The award to Westlake, Ohio-based ATC Materials, Inc., is the first project in the Challenge to be conferred and will address: “alternative production methods for high-temperature composites, and their feedstock materials, relevant to hypersonic vehicle aeroshell glide body, leading edge, control surface, and nose tip components that increase yield, throughput, reliability, and affordability compared to traditional labor-intensive and subtractive billet-to-part manufacturing.”

“RIPS is an enabling technology for hypersonic sensors and seekers,” said Matt Raplenovich, Director of Business Development, ATC. “Being able to mold the material to net shape not only imparts desired physical properties but also allows manufacture of complex shapes and reduces cost.  This program will help define the performance enhancements gained via the molding process and improve manufacturability of finished components for delivery to our DoD customers.”

ATC Materials will partner with The Ohio State University Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) and University of Dayton Research Institute on the initiative.

This project will investigate the effects of net shape molding on finished component microstructure to identify performance advantages and establish best practices for production of the RIPS RF material.  RF materials for extreme environments are critical for hypersonic sensors and seekers, specifically in prototype production of DoD hypersonic RF windows, conformal apertures, radomes, and antenna.

As-molded and molded-machined components will be manufactured, then tested for mechanical, thermal, and dielectric properties. Fractography and other analysis of finished components will relate physical microstructure to performance. An enhanced understanding of the molding process, it’s influence on finished component microstructure, and the effects of microstructure on part performance will be realized.

“Hypersonics and the materials needed therein are critical to our national security and therefore, our national economy,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “We are proud to be leading this challenge to better position the United States in the global hypersonics race.”

Project awards were determined by a team consisting of LIFT and the Department of Defense. Decision criteria includes technological merit; technology readiness level (TRL) and manufacturing readiness level (MRL); funding requirements; cost-share commitment; ITAR compliance, and; LIFT member engagement.

The other two topics involved in the Hypersonics Challenge involve:

  • Developing modeling and simulation and integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) tools to improve understanding of material processing, resulting materials structure and properties, and appropriate selection of materials for given hypersonics applications. Primary materials of interest include high temperature composites additively manufactured metals, and coatings.
  • Advanced manufacturing methods including, but not limited to, in-situ sensing and non-destructive inspection (NDI) techniques to ensure reliable and repeatable manufacturing of hypersonic components to ensure successful operation.


LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.