• practices, environmental concerns, and manufacturing issues. A summary of the workshop presentations and discussions is included in the report as Appendix A.
  • An international Delphi survey of manufacturing experts (more than 40 percent outside the United States) was conducted. Summaries of the survey methodology and results are presented in Appendices B and C.

Based on the information gathered, additional presentations by leaders in manufacturing, and the committee's deliberations, the committee determined the major manufacturing challenges for the year 2020 and the enabling technologies that would be needed to address these challenges.

The Context for Manufacturing in 2020

For the purposes of this study, "manufacturing" was defined in broad terms as the processes and entities required to create, develop, support, and deliver products. Many forces—social, political, and economic, as well as technological—will shape the manufacturing environment in 2020. The committee concluded that the first step to envisioning the future of manufacturing was to envision the future world in general. Mechanisms to develop such a vision were included in the workshop and the Delphi survey. During the workshop, presentations were made on economic, social, and business trends; in the Delphi survey, participants were asked first to describe their view of the manufacturing environment in 2020. Although current trends must be considered to predict the future, the committee felt that the vision for manufacturing should be based on a positive view of the future that would be worth working towards.

Major Forces for Change

The nature of manufacturing enterprises will evolve in response to changes in the technological, political, and economic climate. The committee believes that the following factors will be the most important to the development of manufacturing:

  • The competitive climate, enhanced by communication and knowledge sharing, will require rapid responses to market forces.
  • Sophisticated customers, many in newly developed countries, will demand products customized to meet their needs.
  • The basis of competition will be creativity and innovation in all aspects of the manufacturing enterprise.
  • The development of innovative process technologies will change both the scope and scale of manufacturing.
  • Environmental protection will be essential as the global ecosystem is strained by growing populations and the emergence of new high-technology economies.


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement