Resources In Unit Process Research And Education
A large number of research needs have been identified for the unit process families discussed in Part II and the enabling technologies discussed in Part III. This chapter first examines issues related to the availability and application of resources to fund the many opportunities for unit process R&D. It then discusses the evolving role of universities in unit process research.
Resources For Research
Research in unit manufacturing processes is conducted by a wide range of private corporations, federal agencies, and universities. Several years ago, federal funding supported a little over 25 percent of industrial R&D spending in the general area of manufacturing.1 For universities, federal funding supplies the majority of the support for manufacturing process research with a significantly smaller contribution coming from industry. The majority of the federal funding for university research is supplied by the National Science Foundation.
Specific information on how much industrial R&D spending is allocated to manufacturing processes is difficult to directly determine and must be inferred from other data. In 1989, industrial R&D spending on manufacturing in general is estimated to have been $80 billion (Eagar, 1989). Because many studies have noted that two-thirds of U.S. R&D investments is spent on product R&D and only one-third is spent on process R&D, a rough estimate of total U.S. spending on manufacturing process R&D would be $25 billion in 1989. The committee estimates that the majority of process R&D expenditure is for process development, with a much smaller fraction allocated to basic research.
While the variety of technologies and applications involved in industrial research programs is impressive, two major areas for improvement are evident: improved sharing of technologies within an industry group and migrating basic knowledge from universities to industry. Of these two suggestions, the sharing of technology between companies is probably the more controversial and raises fears of antitrust violations. However, Japanese companies have clearly demonstrated that cooperation in research does not translate into lack of competition in the marketplace (Eagar, 1989). As a consequence, new research results from throughout the world are rapidly disseminated within Japan. Although the United States has the beginnings of industry-wide research cooperations in organizations such as the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Center for Manufacturing Science, and Sematech, it appears that industrial research funds could be spent more efficiently through wider involvement in collaborative research.
Federal Research Programs
Although a few state governments fund applied research in manufacturing, for instance, Industrial Technology Institute in Michigan, most government spending on manufacturing process research occurs in federal agencies. The old Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology had proposed an initiative in advanced manufacturing technology for fiscal year 1994. The initiative represented a total funding level of roughly $1.4 billion from eight different federal agencies. Most of these resources were not additional funds but a compilation of agency programs within standard categories. The agencies with the largest fiscal year 1994 budgets in advanced manufacturing technology were the Department of Defense ($596 million); the Department of Energy ($367 million), the Department of Commerce ($141 million), and the National Science Foundation ($118 million). In addition, the Department of Interior, the
Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration contributed a combined $151 million.
The National Science and Technology Council has replaced the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology. Since NSTC is presently chaired by President Clinton, it will provide more visibility to science and technology. NSTC intends to focus the programs toward specific national goals. Under NSTC, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program has incorporated the Advanced Materials and Processing Program, which had identified approximately $2 billion in agency funding (OSTP, 1993; NSF, 1993).
The major federal programs in manufacturing R&D are managed by a handful of agencies:
- Within the Department of Defense, various programs fund manufacturing research by contractors, such as the Manufacturing Technology Program and the independent R&D programs in the services, as well as various programs in the Advanced Research Projects Agency; in addition, relevant research is conducted by defense laboratories such as the Air Force Materials Laboratory, as well as by the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Office.
- Within the Department of Energy, the national laboratories have allocated large sums for process research.
- Within the Department of Commerce, the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology conducts research on a broad range of specific manufacturing processes, as well as on manufacturing systems integration.
- The National Science Foundation supports academic research in manufacturing processes and related technologies through the engineering research centers and the Strategic Manufacturing Initiative and through programs in the Division of Design, Manufacture and Industrial Innovation; the Division of Civil and Mechanical Structures; the Division of Materials Research; and others.
Rather than attempting to present a comprehensive description of these activities, it may be more useful to describe briefly a few of the most important programs, although these could very well change as the NSTC becomes more involved in priority setting.
Department Of Defense
The Department of Defense has defined ''technology for affordability'' as one of the seven major thrusts in its Science and Technology Strategy (DDR&E, 1992). This thrust includes a plan to integrate the department's manufacturing technology program and its science and technology program, creating a new manufacturing science and technology program. Technology for affordability includes four basic areas: process technology, concurrent engineering, factory floor systems, and manufacturing functions above the factory floor. The following unit process R&D areas are being emphasized:
- manufacturing systems;
- composites fabrication and processing;
- precision machining and forming; and
- electronics manufacturing.
Each of the military services and the Defense Logistics Agency has a manufacturing technology program. The Navy's is illustrative. The objective of the program is to improve the productivity and responsiveness of defense contractors while reducing the cost of weapon systems. In addition to the individual projects performed by contractors and in Navy laboratories, depots, and shipyards, the Navy also funds four centers of excellence in manufacturing R&D:
- The National Center for Excellence in Metalworking Technology serves as a national resource for the development and dissemination of advanced metalworking technologies and processes.
- The Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility helps the electronics industry improve manufacturing processes, process controls, and materials.
- The Center for Excellence for Composites Manufacturing Technology provides a national resource for the development and dissemination of composites manufacturing technology, including detecting and repairing damage in composite structures.
- The Automated Manufacturing Research Facility, cosponsored by and currently implemented at National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a research test bed that supports development of industry standards for automated manufacturing, particularly for the integration of new process and control technologies into practical manufacturing systems.
National Institute Of Standards And Technology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology conducts basic and applied research in the physical sciences and engineering and does generic and precompetitive work on new and advanced technologies. Considerable R&D in many aspects of manufacturing processes, metrology, automation, and information systems is performed within the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory and the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory of the institute.
The Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory includes programs in intelligent processing of materials, machining of ceramics, and metallurgy. The Intelligent Processing of Materials program, for example, integrates in-process material property sensors with process models to establish real-time control of material evolution during processing. Currently, the processes of metal powder atomization and steel alloy processing are being investigated; in the future, injection molding of polymers and processing of ceramics will be investigated.
The Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory has programs in precision engineering, automated manufacturing, robotics, manufacturing data interface standards, and manufacturing technology transfer. These activities relate both to manufacturing systems and to unit process technologies. For instance, the Factory Automation Systems Division provides leadership in the development of standards and technology relating to information systems for manufacturing, especially manufacturing interface standards and product data exchange standards. The Precision Engineering Division's efforts are aimed at metrology and understanding the inherent limitations in process precision.
Department Of Energy
The Department of Energy national laboratories contain significant resources and activities for R&D in advanced manufacturing technologies. Currently, there are intensive efforts by Department of Energy laboratories to interact with industry at a variety of levels. One mechanism is Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, which involve contracts between private companies or consortia of companies and laboratories to develop and transfer specific technologies. Relevant technologies include manufacturing processes, such as materials processing, near-net shape processing of ceramics, advanced welding and joining techniques, diamond coating, and new investment casting processes, as well as materials such as structural polymers, polymeric and organic superconductors, structural ceramic-matrix composites, transportation materials, and ceramics.
Without question there is a remarkable collection of talent and facilities in the national laboratories. With the rapid reduction in nuclear weapons programs in recent years, there are two obvious alternatives for redirecting these resources. One is massive downsizing of some laboratories. The other is redirection of research to national needs, which would include manufacturing processes. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement process is intended to direct the laboratories to projects important to industry. Other innovative approaches are needed to enable major sections of national laboratories to contribute to improving unit manufacturing processes.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation currently has three principal programs under which research in unit processes is sponsored. First, engineering research centers are university-based, multidisciplinary centers designed to strengthen the linkages between engineering education and research in academia and the skill and technology needs of industry. Funding for the centers comes from a combination of National Science Foundation, industry, and state and local funds. Over 400 companies participate in the engineering research centers providing between 9 and 61 percent of total funding at individual engineering research centers. Since the program's inception in 1984, twenty-four centers have been started, three of which have been phased out. Of the twenty-one remaining centers, nine focus on manufacturing processes:
- Carnegie-Mellon University (engineering design);
- Georgia Institute of Technology (low-cost electronic packaging);
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (biotechnology process engineering);
- North Carolina State University (advanced electronic materials processing);
- Ohio State University (net shape manufacturing);
- Purdue University (intelligent manufacturing systems);
- University of Florida, Gainesville (particle science and technology);
- University of Minnesota (interfacial engineering); and
- University of Wisconsin-Madison (plasma-aided manufacturing).
Second, the Division of Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation of the Engineering Directorate supports academic research in the areas of manufacturing processes and equipment, design and integration engineering, and operations research and production systems. The emphasis is on research
employing a blend of experimental, analytical, and computational efforts directed toward developing economically competitive technologies. Examples include methodologies for concurrent design and production of products with engineered microstructures and properties, innovative fabrication and assembly techniques, and integrated production systems. Research leading to the development of manufacturing machines, sensors and control technologies for computer control of manufacturing process, and operations research and systems methodologies is encouraged. Funding mechanisms include grants for single principal investigators and small groups of investigators with complementary skills. Collaboration with industry and national laboratories is also invited. To encourage appropriate teaming, the division conducts several special initiatives, an example of which is the Strategic Manufacturing Initiative.
The Strategic Manufacturing Initiative supports generic research that assists the U.S. manufacturing community in developing innovative and cost-effective manufacturing technology. The initiative focuses on systems and process issues in mechanical processing of materials and is limited to discrete parts manufacturing; specific areas of interest are precision machining and forming, composites manufacturing, and electronics packaging. The initiative supports research activities at an intermediate level, between the individual investigator and the engineering research center. Grants enable teams of three or more investigators to perform focused research in specific technology areas. Active participation of industry is a requirement of the initiative. Two rounds of awards from the Strategic Manufacturing Initiative have been made, in 1990-1991 and 1992-1993. Examples of initiative projects in unit process research include:
- solid, freeform fabrication of ceramics;
- research in ultraprecision machining;
- computer-integrated analysis of deformation processing;
- three-dimensional printing;
- microconstructive manufacturing;
- science base for drills and the drill grinding process;
- net shape manufacturing by plasma technology; and
- the role of grinding protocol in cam service life.
The final National Science Foundation program is the mechanics and materials program, which is supported by the Division of Mechanics and Structural Systems. This program is concerned with the modeling and simulation of thermomechanical aspects of materials processing.
National Center For Manufacturing Sciences
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences is a nonprofit manufacturing research consortium of approximately 180 small, medium, and large manufacturing companies. The center has an annual budget of approximately $200 million and is financed by manufacturers, the federal government, and philanthropists. It conducts a broad range of production research and technology transfer activities in support of industry. The center focuses on the overlapping R&D concerns of its members and on matching complementary abilities of member firms to achieve workable new technology applications. The use of ductile iron as a substitute for structural steel in nonmoving parts of machine tools is an example of some of the center's work.
Role Of Higher Education In Unit Manufacturing Processes
From the brief review of federal programs, it is clear that they support activities that range from establishing a basic understanding of material synthesis and processing, as is typical of the National Science Foundation, to developing processes required in specific focused programs, as in Department of Defense or Department of Energy weapons systems. Except for the National Science Foundation, the university involvement in other federal programs is limited but growing. As discussed in connection with industrial research, the coordination of federal research programs, other than the National Science Foundation, with industry and universities does not appear to be as well developed as in major competitor nations, Japan and Germany (see Chapter 17).
Of all the federal agencies, the National Science Foundation, through its prestige and funding, plays a dominant role in influencing research directions in manufacturing at the nation's universities. The agency currently spends about 12 to 15 percent of its budget in engineering and about 4 percent in manufacturing (this percentage has been constant since 1990). Since the fraction of the National Science Foundation's budget devoted to manufacturing is small, an increase in funding for manufacturing should be considered after taking into account the impact on the agency's overall budget. In any event, university research in manufacturing must be relevant to industrial needs and able to be implemented by industry.
The existing education programs related to unit process R&D may be found in mechanical, industrial, and materials (metallurgical) engineering departments. In some universities, a formal manufacturing department exists, however, in most cases manufacturing engineering is offered as an option in a broader department, for example in mechanical or industrial engineering, or as an interdisciplinary program. Compilations of the number of institutions with a manufacturing program may present a misleading picture of the academic effort in this area. For example, the Directory of Manufacturing Education, compiled by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, lists 220 colleges and universities with undergraduate programs in manufacturing engineering or manufacturing engineering options (SME, 1992). At the graduate level, 108 institutions were identified. However, in 1992 only twenty undergraduate programs in manufacturing engineering and three masters programs had received accreditation.
The lack of accredited degree programs in manufacturing engineering may not be as serious a problem as the numbers might indicate. Many educators and prospective employers believe that an undergraduate degree in one of the mainstream engineering areas, such as electrical or mechanical engineering, followed by more-specialized graduate study is the most effective preparation for later work in manufacturing. For this reason, this committee places little emphasis on the number of degree programs with or without accreditation. More important issues in the committee's opinion are the need to support and train more engineers in manufacturing and the recruitment and support of faculty members with industrial experience.
Manufacturing has only become an acceptable topic for research and education at the nation's leading research universities within the past decade. In recent years, universities have begun to accept part of the responsibility for a decline in national competitiveness in manufacturing. This is illustrated by comments made in a recent article by the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Take, for example, the decline in the United States' ability to compete in the world marketplace for many manufactured goods. The reasons for this are complex, but a major issue has certainly been the attitude of industry and of engineering schools toward the design and manufacture of consumer products. If we are to compete in the international marketplace, we need to place a new emphasis on basic engineering for design and production. We must, of course, do so armed with the tools that engineering science has provided for analysis and simulation, but we must instill a respect for, and indeed a passion for, effective, efficient, and socially responsive design and production.
In the process, we must recognize, teach, and participate in the development of the new techniques of lean production, total quality management, and continuous quality improvement. Beyond these buzzwords lies a core of important new concepts. We must expose our students to these concepts and to more teamwork, as well as educate them in the basic and applied sciences. We must prepare engineers who have the self-discipline, analytical skills, and problem-solving abilities, but who also are prepared to work and lead in the manufacturing sector. We need to educate students who combine the attention to precision, design and manufacturing that is often associated with German or Japanese engineers with the innovative and analytical skills that characterize American engineers. Vest, 1993
The committee supports this viewpoint and hopes it will be appreciated by the faculty committees who make appointment and promotion recommendations at U.S. universities. The perceived need for a greater involvement of academicians with industry is not new. In 1835, Andrew Ure wrote:
The university man, preoccupied with theoretical formulae, of little practical bearing, is too apt to undervalue the science of the factory, though, with candor and patience, he would find it replete with useful application of the most beautiful dynamic and statistical problems. In physics, too, he would there see many theorems bearing golden fruit, which had been long barren in college ground. Ure, 1881
The committee strongly encourages closer university-industry cooperation. Several universities are actively pursuing such programs (Altan, 1993).
- Government agencies involved in sponsoring R&D in manufacturing processes (e.g., National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and National Institute of Standards and Technology) together should carefully evaluate the kinds of manufacturing R&D being supported and the relative funding levels for defense and nondefense R&D. This evaluation could also examine the extent to which other leading industrial countries, notably Germany and Japan, have been effective in commercializing unit process
- technology, given their investment in research that is related to manufacturing, which is considerably higher (as a proportion of their gross domestic product) than that of the United States.
- The committee recommends that incentives be found and implemented to increase the number of students majoring in manufacturing-related technology at universities, so that sufficient trained personnel are available to exploit research opportunities in unit processes and to guide their industrial implementation. For example, the National Science Foundation could convene a study group to determine the appropriate educational incentives, in the context of expected technical opportunities, industry needs, and employment opportunities. One incentive that would quickly attract high caliber students would be an increase in the number of fellowships available to those specializing in manufacturing.
Altan, T. 1993. Restoring the Essence of Competitiveness: Engineering Education in Manufacturing. Presented at Lehigh University, Center for Manufacturing Systems Engineering, 7th Annual Conference with Industry, Cooperating for Success in a Manufacturing Enterprise, May 1993. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Lehigh University.
DDR&E (Director of Defense Research and Engineering). 1992. Defense Science and Technology Strategy. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense.
Eagar, T.W. 1989. Technology transfer and cooperative research in Japan. Welding Journal 68(1):39-43.
NSF (National Science Foundation). 1991. Science and Engineering Indicators. Washington, D.C.: NSF.
NSF (National Science Foundation). 1993. Advanced Manufacturing Technology: The Fiscal Year 1994 Federal Program in Manufacturing Science, Engineering and Technology. Washington, D.C.: NSF.
OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy). 1993. Advanced Materials and Processing: The Fiscal Year 1993 Program. Washington D.C.: The Executive Office of the President.
OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). 1990. Making Things Better: Competing in Manufacturing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers). 1992. Directory of Manufacturing Education. Dearborn, Michigan: SME.
Ure, A. 1881. Philosophy of Manufactures (reprint of 1835 edition). London: H.G. Bohn.
Vest, C. 1993. The Transformation of Engineering Education, Syllabus-Engineering and Science. Spring: 1.