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Keynote Presentation at RAPID 2013

(as prepared)

Thank you, and good morning. It is a real pleasure to be here and to join my friends, Brett Lambert from the Department of Defense and Ed Morris from NAMII, at RAPID 2013.

I would like to discuss three points.

  • A revolution in manufacturing, and why manufacturing is so important,
  • What NIST is contributing to Additive manufacturing,
  • And what the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is about.

First, if you read media today, it's like additive manufacturing was just discovered, yet is the magic of tomorrow.

Of course, rapid prototyping has been evolving for over many years.

In fact, it is hard to believe that this is the 20th anniversary of the first RAPID show, back in 1993. Happy Anniversary!

Another thing catching headlines are words like "a U.S. manufacturing renaissance."

And, A third manufacturing revolution – to a new era of digital manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing is the most vivid example of this digital manufacturing revolution.

So is this overheated media bluster or prescient truth? The answer is, YES! A bit of both, and with the success of public/private partnerships like NAMII, this new revolution will underpin many positive changes for manufacturing.

The Need

There's been an amazing convergence of ideas pointing to partnerships of sufficient scale and scope to accelerate manufacturing innovation.

Why this is so, I think, has a lot to do with the current state of U.S. manufacturing and international trends in innovation and industrial competitiveness.

The U.S. manufacturing sector continues to be a mainstay of our economic productivity.

It generates $1.8 trillion in GDP—12.2% of total U.S. GDP.

One in seven jobs in the tradeable sectors of the economy stem from U.S. manufacturing.

Manufacturing is the primary source of U.S. productivity growth and the source of 70 percent of the patents awarded to U.S. entities.

In short, manufacturing is a key ingredient of our economy. It delivers outsized benefits.

Yet, 11 of 19 major U.S. manufacturing industries produced less in 2011 than they did 2000. Over this same decade, more than 65,000 manufacturing plants—nearly one in six—ceased operation.

This isn't all the simple story of outsourcing to lowest labor cost.

The U.S. share of global exports of advanced technology products fell from 21 percent to 15 percent.

We are running a trade deficit in advanced technology products, last year over $90 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 12 percent of our annual deficit in merchandise trade.

After ranking as the world's largest manufacturer for more than a century, the United States is now tied with China in terms of share of global manufacturing output.

It also has slipped below Germany, South Korea, and Japan in rankings of manufacturing intensity, a critical indicator of future job-creating innovation.

HOWEVER, several trends are converging to create new opportunities for U.S. manufacturing, causing significant growth.

The U.S. remains the world's most productive manufacturer.

Add to this rising labor costs in developing economies, growing production of domestic natural gas, and the desire to protect IP. All are driving new growth in U.S. manufacturing

Perhaps most importantly is innovative technology – market-disrupting product and process technologies like Additive, all are shifting the comparative advantages of global competitors. These shifts, many predict, will favor the U.S. manufacturing sectors, especially industries that produce high-value-added goods.

According to the Council on Competitiveness, "U.S. manufacturing is more important now than ever."

Why is this true?

It's because the next generation of technology innovations will be integrally linked to production processes—to manufacturing capabilities.

For those outside this room, here's the answer to question that inevitably follows: So what?

I'll answer by quoting from a recent report from Deloitte:

"The linkage between manufacturing capabilities and economic prosperity is a much stronger predictor of a vibrant, successful growing economy than any other measure typically used by economists."

In partnership—industry, academia, and government—we need to capitalize on emerging technologies. We must develop them and refine them. And we must finish the job. We must scale them up and bring them to the global market.


Second, in the Department of Commerce is NIST—NIST is the nation's measurement laboratory.

And since measurement is part and parcel of industry and technology—let's face it, if you can't measure, you can't repeatedly make it—NIST is also U.S. industry's national lab.

In addition to several extramural grant programs, we have two significant additive manufacturing projects under way:

One is focused on materials, and the other on processes. Tangible outputs of both will be enhanced measurement techniques that support new, standardized methods and best practices.

In the materials project, we are concentrating on metal powders.

Right now, industry cannot rigorously verify that nominally identical metal powders used in additive manufacturing are, in fact, identical. This means that the powder properties and, therefore, the properties of the finished part are hard to confirm. 

NIST's aim is to develop material-characterization test methods for the raw powder materials used in additive as well as the final products fabricated by the process.

Will Titanium powder from one OEM give you the same part properties as another?

NIST is working closely with manufacturers to develop materials-characterization methods.

This industrial scrutiny is a required step for developing consensus properties of part materials that can be accepted into authoritative material databases

The second NIST project is developing the underpinning measurement science for validating digital models of additive manufacturing and composite structures.

Additive manufacturing processes have the potential to increase product quality while simultaneously lowering manufacturing costs. They can create complex, high-performance structures that offer multiple advances such as increased strength, decreased weight, and multiple functionalities—a wing can also be an antenna, for example.

However, these structures require detailed models of features beneath the "skin." Errors not detectable by visual examination. The accurate digital models that NIST intends to develop will improve quality and reduce rework.


Finally, I'd like to move on to the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation—the NNMI, for short.

In a nutshell, the NNMI will create up to 15 institutes to help ensure that new technology bridges the gaps from invention to product development to manufacturing at scale.

Leveraging the assets of a particular region, each institute will bring together universities, companies of all sizes, and government, to co-invest in the development of new technologies that spill over to provide general benefits to a region's manufacturing base, rather than just a single company. In other words, new manufacturing HUBS.

Institutes will build workforce skills and processing capabilities in large and small manufacturing firms.

What is truly remarkable, I believe, is that the NNMI concept has such a strong and rich pedigree. Our preliminary design report cites a variety of recent reports and studies that call for creating what is, in effect, an innovation ecosystem

An ecosystem for converting the fruits of research and the seeds of new technologies into crops—products and processes—that are harvested in America.

As you may know, the President unveiled his proposal for the NNMI in last year's State of the Union Address, and asked the agencies to work together on a pilot Institute—the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Now, as a pilot Institute, NAMII is delivering a wealth of best practices and lessons learned that have helped inform planning for the NNMI

NAMII's experience is one of three legs of our NNMI planning stool. Ed will be talking more on this in just a moment.

The second leg, which I already mentioned, is the received wisdom garnered from such respected bodies as the National Academy Sciences, the President's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, the Council on Competitiveness, and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The third leg is the input received from the nearly 900 people and organizations who responded to our formal Request for Information or participated in four regional workshops that we organized to gather stakeholder ideas and suggestions.

In short, the NNMI and its preliminary design is not the product of "castles in the air" thinking, but the collective wisdom of many leaders in industry and academia.

The NNMI is intended to solve an economically crippling problem known as the "missing middle."

The missing middle is the gap that separates promising new ideas, discoveries, and inventions from economic pay dirt: manufacturing scale-up and commercialization. It's the stage of development where opportunity, risk, and uncertainty are high.

We all know that the U.S. continues to lead the world at the exploratory end of the innovation spectrum. Our universities and federal laboratories are the best in the world at basic research. We can do a better job of harvesting this knowledge in U.S. manufacturing.

This gap or weakness in the U.S. innovation ecosystem has also been called the challenge of scale-up.

The NNMI will bridge this gap. It creates the precompetitive space where industry and academia can effectively work on industry-relevant problems. It will span and shrink the missing middle, and thereby accelerate the pace of manufacturing innovation and commercialization. The emphasis is on translational R&D.

The NNMI and its regional Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation—the IMIs—have a scale and focus that are unique, and they will be built upon concepts of a strong public-private partnership.

Both attributes—scale and partnership—are key.

In this year's State of the Union, the President highlighted NNMI. He asked Congress to establish a national network of up to 15 Institutes, and he tasked the Departments of Defense and Energy to use existing funds to launch three additional manufacturing institutes.

The Department of Defense will lead two of the new institutes, focused on "Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation" and "Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing," and the Department of Energy will be leading one new institute on "Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing."

All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multiagency team of technical experts. All three will be awarded this year.

Collectively, the institutes will share the broad mission of improving U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. To the extent possible and practical, the institutes will work collaboratively, sharing resources, best practices, and R&D results.

Now let's hear what our pilot institute, NAMII, on Additive Manufacturing, is up to.

Thank you.

Created July 2, 2013, Updated October 4, 2016