University of Michigan Awarded “U LIFT Challenge” Project

Project team will use machine learning to predict  melting temperatures in novel alloys.

DETROIT – LIFT, the Detroit-based national manufacturing innovation institute, today announced it has awarded a “U LIFT Challenge” project award to the University of Michigan to utilize machine learning to better predict the melting temperature of new alloys.

Understanding the melting temperature of alloys is a critical piece of designing a component, helping ensure that component is fit for purpose. The end result of this project will be an open-source model, allowing other manufacturers to use its findings.

Currently, an alloy’s melting temperature can be predicted using the Calculation of Phase Diagrams (CALPHAD) approach, which is an important aspect of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME), however, thermodynamic data only exists for a limited set of alloy systems and cannot be used for new, novel alloys.

“We will build a supervised machine-learning method to extend capability to predict high-temperature melting for novel systems,” said Wenhao Sun, principal investigator on the project and Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. “Rapid and accurate estimations of melting temperatures for novel alloy systems will facilitate their design, manufacturing and deployment.”

“Our university partners are critical to our work of advancing technologies for the U.S. industrial base, particularly when it comes to better understanding novel materials,” said Noel Mack, Chief Technology Officer, LIFT. “We received a number of outstanding proposals for the ‘U LIFT Challenge’ and our ‘sharks’ had to make some difficult decisions, but we are excited to see the outcome of working with Dr. Sun and his Michigan team.”

The U LIFT Challenge is funded by LIFT and modeled after the popular television show “Shark Tank,” open to universities from across the country. Proposals were initially reviewed by the LIFT Technology Team and a select number were then invited to present their proposal in a “Shark Tank”-style virtual meeting, including LIFT staff and industry members from the LIFT Technology Interest Group.

Submissions were required to align with LIFT’s ICME technology thrusts, including hypersonics, lightweight armor, weapon systems, space, orphan & obsolete parts, airframe structures or cross collaboration with LIFT’s other technology pillars, including advanced material & process development, multi-material joining, and agile & smarter manufacturing. Materials of interest include metallics, ceramics, and hybrid materials.


For the U LIFT Challenge, projects were evaluated on:

  • Technological Merit,
  • Technology Readiness Level/Manufacturing Readiness Level,
  • Ability to meet program timing & Proposed Budget, and
  • LIFT Member Engagement.