Advanced Manufacturing: A Snapshot of Priority Areas Across the U.S Government
Subcommittee for Advanced Manufacturing of the National Science and Technology Council
Advanced manufacturing drives long-term economic prosperity and growth, and supports the missions of the Federal agencies participating in the NSTC Subcommittee for Advanced Manufacturing (SAM). A foundation of priority technology areas is needed to secure U.S. competitiveness in this sector, from which collaborations between government, industry, and academia may be built. This document captures technology areas in advanced manufacturing that are current priorities for the Federal Government, and are strong candidates for focused Federal investment and public-private collaboration. Emerging technology areas include advanced materials manufacturing, engineering biology to advance biomanufacturing, biomanufacturing for regenerative medicine, advanced bioproducts manufacturing, and continuous manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. In addition, the Federal Government has already announced a number of advanced manufacturing technology areas that are either the focus of substantial existing investments or that may be the subject of future programming. These existing technology areas similarly require support across the development pipeline to fully leverage current research and development investments and infrastructure. Finally, Federal education and workforce training programs for manufacturing, which encourage strong industry involvement to ensure that today’s curricula meet tomorrow’s workforce needs, are highlighted.
Priority Emerging Technology Areas
Advanced manufacturing is enabled by a multitude of technologies. In this report, the Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing highlights five technology areas that are focuses of widespread interest and strong support among the Federal agencies involved in advanced manufacturing. These emerging technology areas are strong candidates for future investment and expanded collaboration between government, industry, and academia.
Advanced Materials Manufacturing
Whether they be lightweight automotive components made from new alloys that are stronger than steel and only a fraction of the weight, or materials that have been engineered at the nanoscale to turn waste heat into electricity, advanced materials enable the production of new products with unprecedented functions. To fully capitalize on the emergence of new advanced materials, industry requires new tools and approaches to tailor their design and quickly produce them at scale. Advanced materials manufacturing cuts across a multitude of industries—such as automotive, aircraft, biomedical, and electronics—which are pillars of our national economy and also important to our national defense. This technology area leverages the historic leadership of U.S. industry in high-technology product manufacturing, as well as its significant intellectual leadership in materials simulation and nanofabrication.
Engineering Biology to Advance Biomanufacturing
Engineering biology is the design and wholesale construction of new biological parts and systems, and the re-design of existing biological systems for tailored purposes. The field integrates engineering and computer-assisted design approaches with biological research, to harness the power of biological systems to manufacture products that are of benefit to mankind; for example, the antimalarial drug artemisinin and synthetic spider silk, which may be spun into materials stronger than Kevlar. Engineering biology leverages advances in synthetic biology, along with other novel technologies that enable the predictable design of biological systems. To date, engineering biology to advance biomanufacturing has mostly focused on large-scale processes (up to millions of gallons), where the engineered cells are used to produce a fuel, chemical, protein, or biomaterial. This is different than many biomedical applications of engineered cells in fields such as regenerative medicine, where modest volumes of the cells themselves may be the product (for example, autologous stem cells for tissue engineering applications). It is becoming increasingly clear that advances in engineering biology (and synthetic biology) such as genome editing could be applied broadly for the manufacture of chemicals, materials, and cells. Engineering biology as a field evolved from the existing bioprocessing expertise within the United States (which enabled the production of enzymes and protein therapeutics), and incorporates new organism engineering technologies (including synthetic biology and rapid prototyping), standardization, and interoperability. This field is well positioned to accelerate the rate of introduction of new products manufactured using engineering biology to the market and grow the U.S. bioeconomy.
Biomanufacturing for Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine, and the clinical use of stem cells, has the potential to repair or replace dysfunctional, degenerating, or absent cells, tissues, and organs. Such developments may one day restore the form, function, and appearance to our severely injured service members, dramatically reduce waitlists for organ transplants, increase the availability of essential cell-based therapies, and possibly reduce healthcare cost for treatments. Additionally, engineered cells can be used to redirect immune function and enable the emergence of “immuno-oncology.” Microphysiological systems (“organ-on-a-chip”), a small living and working model of a specific tissue or organ type, can greatly accelerate screening of drug candidates, probe disease mechanisms, and explore novel therapies. To realize the full potential of regenerative medicine, active cells, tissues, and organs (such as cardiovascular, renal, and neurologic) must be bioengineered and manufactured at scale.
Advanced Bioproducts Manufacturing
The United States currently relies on the average use of more than 19 million barrels per day of petroleum for fuels and as a feedstock to make products ranging from chemicals to plastics to many everyday items. Bioproducts—high-value chemicals, bioreagents, materials, fuels, and other biobased intermediates derived from renewable biological resources such as agricultural and forest waste—hold strong promise to reduce this petroleum use and serve as the backbone of an emerging bioeconomy. While the United States has made great strides in promoting the use of sustainably-produced feedstocks to fuel economic activity and growth, the bioeconomy is still in its early stages. Significant work remains to increase the use of bioproducts to replace a variety of petroleum-based fuels and products, make those bioproducts more cost-effective relative to petroleum-based products, and further improve the sustainability and environmental benefits of bioproducts.
Continuous Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals
Continuous manufacturing is the integration of multiple manufacturing process systems into a single system, based on model controls, to enable continuous product flow and recovery as input raw materials are added to the manufacturing process. Pilot studies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries suggest that continuous manufacturing may have a multitude of benefits in these industries, such as: reducing the manufacturing facility footprint by 10 to 100 times; eliminating intermediate product batches and their associated storage and testing; reducing the amount of incoming raw materials and final product waste; streamlining manufacturing processes and shortening manufacturing cycle times; increasing production yields and overall product manufacturing efficiency; improving product quality with advanced control systems; and enabling real-time release testing. Continuous manufacturing may reduce manufacturing costs, which currently consume as much as 27 percent of the revenue for many pharmaceutical companies, by up to 40 to 50 percent.