With the recent announcement by the administration on the technology focus and details for the next installment of Advanced Manufacturing Institutes (AMIs) as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), an assessment of key synergisms of U.S. initiatives in nanoinformatics and the nanomanufacturing enterprise is timely. The two DOD-led institutes will include technology focus areas in Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation (DMDI) and Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation (LM3I). Both of these conceptual institutes will incorporate overlapping themes including materials by design, supply-chain networking, and manufacturing on demand concepts in order to reduce the cost and time to market for advanced products and components for both military and commercial applications. The benefit will include enhanced U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and efficiency. The challenge is providing the vision, infrastructure, and platform to implement the necessary digital thread providing an impact across industry sectors on a national and eventually global scale.
Looking closer at the thrust of these AMIs, the LM3I aims for lighter weight metal, more reliable metal composites, an integrated approach incorporating systems engineering coupled with design of materials and advanced manufacturing. This approach addresses defense needs as well as opening up new markets and applications from more fuel efficient automobiles to safer buildings and transportation infrastructure. The DMDI establishes the vision for the factory of the future with as networked, data-driven processes that combine innovative automation, sensing, and control. The manufacturing workforce is transformed at every level – from the shop floor, to the factory control level, to the global supply chain. The Institute will help cross-disciplinary teams integrate IT and manufacturing solutions, and will facilitate multi-industry collaboration to promote interoperability in supply chains. The Institute will help U.S. manufacturers be the best in the world at connecting their flexible manufacturing operations, driving them securely with digital data, controlling quality with feedback from sensors and data analysis, maintaining a trusted chain of custody, and delivering products in significantly less time than global competitors.
Considering the impact to the nanomanufacturing community, both of these topical AMIs compliment initiatives the NNN supports in nanomaterials property database development, nanoinformatics, nanomaterials supply chain analysis, and nanomanufacturing network functionality. These initiatives are further supported through the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure Signature Initiative, which supports the concept of materials by design and enhanced modeling capability extending from materials to manufacturing platforms. NKI also backs Sustainable Nanomanufacturing and Nanotechnology for Sensors, which further support materials properties and supply chain database development and utilization tools. Looking ahead, the opportunity to respond to the request for information solicitation from the DOD is available for a short time, after which a request for proposals with additional details and requirements for the AMIs will be posted. The NNN recommends that our members and all nanotechnology stakeholders further review these solicitations and take advantage of this opportunity to seek common areas where the nanomanufacturing enterprise will further benefit from this significant public-private investment.