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Advanced Manufacturing Standards Could Save $100B Per Year

November 18, 2016

2 Min Read
Advanced Manufacturing Standards Could Save $100B Per Year
A 3D printed spinal disc. Image courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

American manufacturers could save about $100 billion per year by codifying measurement standards and methods and solidifying “proof-of-concept” demonstrations for advanced manufacturing technologies, according to new research by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released Thursday.

“Gaps in the technology infrastructure – including lack of reliable measurement and test methods, scientifically-based standards, and other formal knowledge and tools – limit advanced manufacturing’s further development and adoption,” NIST economist Gary Anderson, who coordinated the economic studies with nonprofit research institute RTI International, said in a statement.

Assembling data through interviews and surveys with manufacturers, developers, and other stakeholders, researchers complied four studies, each focusing on a different advanced manufacturing technology. For each piece of equipment, the data revealed identifying five to 10 critical technical barriers to adopting the technology.

As an example, NIST said, implementing standardized modelling and finishing methods in 3D printing could save an estimated $4 billion per year. Including electronic devices on rolls of flexible metal or plastic used in roll-to-roll (R2R) manufacturing is thought to reduce production costs by 15%.

If gaps in technological standards and testing are closed, the estimated annual cost savings for industries using the four types of equipment examined are:

Additive Manufacturing: $4.1 billion, 18.3%
Advanced Robots and Automation: $40.1 billion, 5.3%
Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing: $400 million, 14.7%
Smart Manufacturing: $57.4 billion, 3.2%

“If we consider the larger-scale outcomes brought about by meeting these needs – such as new and improved products, increased production quality, long-term industry growth and job creation – the impacts would be significantly higher,” said Anderson.

In order to garner maximum cost savings, the studies suggest that standards and performance measures be kept nonproprietary, public institutions should have a role in developing the standards and measurement tools, and the engagement of manufacturing research organizations to help spread knowledge of testing and measurement standards.

“Our studies emphasize that full economic impact will only be realized if all technical needs are met, and all stakeholders regardless of size, not just large manufacturers, can share the rewards,” said Anderson.

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