production processes that can eventually be integrated into the design process of the target products. The emphasis on standards supports NIST’s mission.
There are three thrust areas in the SMPE program: metal additive manufacturing, smart machining, and micromanufacturing and nanomanufacturing. Additive manufacturing encompasses technologies used to join raw materials together to fabricate three-dimensional objects directly from electronic design data. This technology has the potential to increase the rates of prototyping and thus accelerate the time required to implement new materials and designs onto the product lines. Demonstrations of additive manufacturing with metals were observed by the panel’s review team. Based on inputs from the Additive Manufacturing Consortium, the ASTM F42 Committee on Additive Manufacturing Technologies, industry interactions, and the roadmap for additive manufacturing, the NIST group is focused on fundamental measurement science for additive manufacturing processes that is used to evaluate and improve additive manufacturing equipment, standard test methods, physics-based modeling of the process, and in situ measurements of these parts. The group also is developing materials standards for additive manufacturing that include powder characterization, test protocols, and analysis methods.
Current metrics used to measure the progress toward a goal of improving the producibility of additive manufacturing are the project milestones and are not quantitative in nature. The work in additive manufacturing lags behind industry leaders, such as Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company, which are implementing additive manufacturing onto production platforms with larger parts and more extensively in comparison with what is being researched at NIST. The need for standards on additive processing methods, data, testing, and monitoring is critical in further adoption of additive manufacturing. Additionally, common approaches to how the testing is being accomplished for design allowables development are also needed.4 The NIST work is aligned well, but it needs to be accelerated to address these issues.
The work of the SMPE group also includes the development of data to support machine tool performance standards. The goals here are to mitigate risks for users of high-end machine tools through the application of standards to machine manufacturers. There also is a project to improve models and simulations for optimization of these machine tools. These are well-established projects with industry partners, and metrics are developed with industry partners.
Next-Generation Robotics and Automation Program
The objective of the Next-Generation Robotics and Automation program is to provide the means for using smart robots and automation systems in production systems regardless of size. The work targets multiple industries. The focus areas are sensing and perception, manipulation, mobility, and autonomy. There is an emphasis on workplace safety in areas where robots are colocated with people. The group applies knowledge of robot safety, perception, autonomous mobility, and situational modeling in order to develop data that will be used in establishing standards. It also develops tests for current and future standards. The group works through key industry associations, such as the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), the U.S. Council for Automotive Research, and the Material Handling Industry of America, to develop broad-based industry adoption of these standards. This group’s work is coordinated with the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) and the Engineering Laboratory. The metrics used are project management milestones and are not quantitative in nature.
4Design allowables are materials property values that are statistically determined from test data. They represent the limits of stiffness, stress, or strain that are allowed for a particular material, application, configuration, and environmental condition.