Manufacturing Metrology Division

The mission of the Manufacturing Metrology Division is to fulfill the measurements and standards needs of U.S. discrete-parts manufacturers in mechanical metrology and advanced manufacturing technology. The division aims to conduct metrology research, provide calibration services, develop standards, establish traceability, and produce high-quality scientific and technical output. It conducts research and development in realizing and disseminating the Systeme International (SI) mechanical units; develops methods, models, sensors, and data to improve metrology, machines, and processes; provides services in mechanical metrology, optics metrology, machine metrology, process metrology, and sensor integration; and leads in the development of national and international standards. The division currently has 35 full-time staff, 1 NRC postdoctoral researcher, and 14 guest researchers. Its yearly funding for 2007 was about $10 million, with about 20 percent of this total coming from extramural sources.

The staff of the MMD reviewed by the panel is extremely capable and well motivated and has a strong, positive outlook. These facts, coupled with excellent facilities and equipment, have yielded high-quality work. However, a number of concerns may impede the continued excellent performance of the MMD. For example, more permanent staff members are needed in critical areas such as optics. Trained replacements are needed for soon-to-retire senior staff members. Succession planning should be executed so that gaps can be identified and young engineers and scientists recruited. The use of postdoctoral associates and the funding of graduate students are excellent vehicles for bringing new young talent into the division and properly training them. However, making use of the availability of guest workers who do not have the possibility of permanent employment does not address the succession planning issue.

TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART

The MEL is well known for the high quality of its work in manufacturing metrology, and industry seems pleased with NIST’s calibrations and leadership. The MMD staff is extremely positive and motivated; many staff members have worked at NIST for many years and seem proud of their work. In some areas, especially optics metrology, the group is smaller than its reputation would suggest; the number of important projects that it has warrants a larger staff. The wireless sensors work is an exciting emerging area with high potential for growth. The MEL should position itself well to be a leader in setting global standards in this important area. The work in improving mass metrology and small-force measurement technology is extremely advanced and should prove to be very productive and useful to industry. There is considerable scope for outstanding publications in high-impact journals in this area. The new projects in optics involving the testing of the phase-transfer function of an interferometer and the use of nanostructured optics for the testing of mandrels for x-ray telescope mirrors and the measurement of the radius of curvature of large, precision, spherical surfaces in the radius-of-curvature range of 10 m < R < 1,000 m are important and should be valuable for the optics industry. The work on measurement methods for machine dynamics and machining process modeling is well done and leverages NIST’s historic expertise in measurements and machining. This is long-term research; significant findings will require the provision of long-term support. Given the high-risk nature of this work, it is doubtful that significant fundamental results will be generated in a year or two. If this project is pursued, it should be supported for a longer duration regardless of initial results.

The MMD programs compare very favorably with peer activities at the other National Metrology Institutes (NMIs). For example, the Mass and Force Metrology projects are at the



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Manufacturing Metrology Division The mission of the Manufacturing Metrology Division is to fulfill the measurements and standards needs of U.S. discrete-parts manufacturers in mechanical metrology and advanced manufacturing technology. The division aims to conduct metrology research, provide calibration services, develop standards, establish traceability, and produce high- quality scientific and technical output. It conducts research and development in realizing and disseminating the Systeme International (SI) mechanical units; develops methods, models, sensors, and data to improve metrology, machines, and processes; provides services in mechanical metrology, optics metrology, machine metrology, process metrology, and sensor integration; and leads in the development of national and international standards. The division currently has 35 full-time staff, 1 NRC postdoctoral researcher, and 14 guest researchers. Its yearly funding for 2007 was about $10 million, with about 20 percent of this total coming from extramural sources. The staff of the MMD reviewed by the panel is extremely capable and well motivated and has a strong, positive outlook. These facts, coupled with excellent facilities and equipment, have yielded high-quality work. However, a number of concerns may impede the continued excellent performance of the MMD. For example, more permanent staff members are needed in critical areas such as optics. Trained replacements are needed for soon-to-retire senior staff members. Succession planning should be executed so that gaps can be identified and young engineers and scientists recruited. The use of postdoctoral associates and the funding of graduate students are excellent vehicles for bringing new young talent into the division and properly training them. However, making use of the availability of guest workers who do not have the possibility of permanent employment does not address the succession planning issue. TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART The MEL is well known for the high quality of its work in manufacturing metrology, and industry seems pleased with NIST’s calibrations and leadership. The MMD staff is extremely positive and motivated; many staff members have worked at NIST for many years and seem proud of their work. In some areas, especially optics metrology, the group is smaller than its reputation would suggest; the number of important projects that it has warrants a larger staff. The wireless sensors work is an exciting emerging area with high potential for growth. The MEL should position itself well to be a leader in setting global standards in this important area. The work in improving mass metrology and small-force measurement technology is extremely advanced and should prove to be very productive and useful to industry. There is considerable scope for outstanding publications in high-impact journals in this area. The new projects in optics involving the testing of the phase-transfer function of an interferometer and the use of nanostructured optics for the testing of mandrels for x-ray telescope mirrors and the measurement of the radius of curvature of large, precision, spherical surfaces in the radius-of-curvature range of 10 m < R < 1,000 m are important and should be valuable for the optics industry. The work on measurement methods for machine dynamics and machining process modeling is well done and leverages NIST’s historic expertise in measurements and machining. This is long-term research; significant findings will require the provision of long-term support. Given the high-risk nature of this work, it is doubtful that significant fundamental results will be generated in a year or two. If this project is pursued, it should be supported for a longer duration regardless of initial results. The MMD programs compare very favorably with peer activities at the other National Metrology Institutes (NMIs). For example, the Mass and Force Metrology projects are at the 11

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forefront in their domain. Even where investments in programs at other laboratories—for example, PTB in Germany—are higher, the MMD staff is confident of its ability to maintain competitive programs. This is reflected in the results of a worldwide round-robin measurement comparison conducted in the mass and force areas. Also, in emerging areas such as wireless sensors, MMD researchers are acknowledged leaders in development of standards. Given the likely widespread impact of this technology, it is critical that this leadership role be maintained with appropriate investment. ADEQUACY OF INFRASTRUCTURE The facilities and equipment of the MMD are very good, with state-of-the-art equipment found in each of the programs assessed. For example, the large-mass calibration equipment is unparalleled. Other examples include optics (flat and spherical-surface metrology equipment) and the NIST nano-optics fabrication facilities. The staff is highly motivated and appears to approach its assigned tasks with enthusiasm. The facilities and equipment appropriately support the MMD core mission and the carrying out of its various projects to completion. Some weaknesses exist with respect to personnel matters and succession planning. For example, a mechanism to hire replacements in anticipation of retirements appears to be lacking, a source of concern to staff. Furthermore, there are too few staff members in some key areas such as optics, given the facilities and importance of this area. The reliance on guest researchers to carry out core activities is a cause of concern. Among other things, there is a loss of knowledge and experience when there is insufficient overlap with succeeding guest researchers. More postdoctoral associates are needed. ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES AND IMPACT The MMD continues to do a very good job of developing standards, providing calibration services, and establishing traceability. It remains at the top of the field in force measurement, optics metrology, machine tool metrology, and acoustics metrology. The MMD staff are active in standards committees in such areas as mass metrology. Their work on wireless sensors standards committees has resulted in establishing standards for wireless data communication among sensors. They are active in the dissemination of results to a wide audience through the organization of and participation in meetings and conferences. An example is the upcoming CIRP symposium in the machining area that is to be held at NIST. Several drivers for U.S. manufacturing have influenced the content of the MMD programs. Through frequent interactions and collaborations, the division ensures that MMD measurements and standards activities address the needs and priorities of its customers. The division also produces high-quality work on optics metrology and small-force measurement technology. It is, however, not clear how research projects are chosen. It is suggested that studies such as those by the NRC on grand challenges for manufacturing be considered in the interest of fostering more high-risk, high-payoff work. The division evinced multiple instances of good interlaboratory collaboration. Most notable among these is one between the Mass Metrology Project and the Argonne National Laboratory. The project identified a unique, diamond-like carbon coating developed at Argonne as a highly effective protective layer for new mass artifacts being developed for future mass dissemination purposes and has exploited this well. The coating originally was developed as a low-friction coating at Argonne. The impact of this collaboration is likely to be high for both participants. 12

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While the publication output is high, the staff should be encouraged to publish more in peer-reviewed journals with high impact factors. This would also be a plus in attracting high-quality postdoctoral associates. A study and mapping of customer needs with MMD capabilities would be very useful for highlighting the accomplishments of the program in the service of industry, federal, and state organizations. CONCLUSIONS The conclusions of the panel based on its assessment of the Manufacturing Metrology Division are as follows: • The MMD is at the top of the field in force measurement, optics metrology, machine tool metrology, and acoustics metrology. It has very good facilities and equipment that have yielded high-quality work. Its programs compare very favorably with peer activities at the other NMIs. • The MMD ensures that its measurements and standards activities address the needs and priorities of its customers. Examples include the division’s work in wireless sensors standards, in improving mass metrology and small-force measurement technology, and in the measurement of the radius of curvature of large, precision, spherical surfaces. • The MMD continues to do a very good job of developing standards, providing calibration services, and establishing traceability. The MMD staff is active in standards committees and in the dissemination of results to a wide audience through its organization of and participation in meetings and conferences. • Permanent staff members are needed in critical areas such as optics. Succession planning should be used to identify gaps and to recruit young engineers and scientists. The reliance on guest workers who do not have the possibility of future employment should be reduced in favor of postdoctoral associates and graduate students. • While the publication output is high, the staff should be encouraged to publish more in peer-reviewed journals with high impact factors. • A study and mapping of customer needs with MMD capabilities would be very useful for highlighting the accomplishments of the program in the service of industry, federal, and state organizations. 13