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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 3 Manufacturing Metrology Division The mission of the Manufacturing Metrology Division is to fulfill the measurements and standards needs of U.S. discrete-parts manufacturers in mechanical metrology and advanced manufacturing technology. This mission is accomplished under the rubric of four focus areas: (1) research and development in realizing and disseminating the International System of Units (SI) mechanical units; (2) the development of methods, models, sensors, and data to improve metrology, machines, and processes; (3) the provision of services in mechanical metrology, optics metrology, machine metrology, process metrology, and sensor integration; and (4) leading in the development of national and international standards. The research portfolio of the MMD is well distributed from low- to high-risk projects. Low-risk projects such as automating calibration capabilities in sound or mass have resulted in improved processes (e.g., lower uncertainty, larger dynamic range, reduced costs) while reducing the reliance on manual labor to execute these calibrations, enabling more efficient use of personnel and the ability to address customer needs better. High-risk projects—such as utilizing DNA molecules to serve as an intrinsic small-force standard, or the newly purchased laser lithography tool for fast diffractive-optics manufacture—are positioning NIST to continue its global leadership in nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing. The result of this research portfolio is a team and facilities that are well suited to target the four focus areas of the division. The MMD executes its mechanical metrology mission through two major efforts: (1) either by improving currently known processes or by developing completely new approaches, it makes measurements that could not be done before; and (2) it enhances current capabilities by means of automation to improve accuracy, reduce costs, broaden operational ranges, reduce uncertainty, and reduce turnaround time. The MMD currently has 33 NIST staff, 7 guest researchers, and 2 postdoctoral researchers. Its FY 2010 estimated funding is about $9.9 million, with about 17 percent coming from extramural sources (including reimbursable services). TECHNICAL MERIT RELATIVE TO STATE OF THE ART NIST is well known for the high quality of its work in manufacturing metrology, and it continues to build this reputation from a variety of perspectives. The measurements executed in the MMD are of high quality and are often the de facto standard to which the National Measurement Institutes (NMIs) of other nations are held. Furthermore, the MMD team continues to develop new means of making measurements to address the ever-increasing demand for improved tests. For example, the work in the redefinition of the kilogram places NIST in the leadership position for next-generation mass definitions. The kilogram redefinition will be enabled through the establishment of the first “mise-en-pratique” (practical method for realization) and the dissemination of a new kilogram definition and a dissemination system that directly ties the current air-based kilogram
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 definition to the vacuum-based alternative definition using stable artifacts with wear-resistant and chemical inertness characteristics that are maintained in controlled environments. Such work is critical in linking definitions employed in the United States to those used in other countries. Such links are necessary to ensure that U.S. industries can effectively compete in the global market. Of particular note is the unique and highly innovative approach toward establishing SI traceability for small-force measurement. Atomic and single-molecule forces will be evaluated as potential intrinsic standards and references. New techniques using DNA molecules to serve as an intrinsic small-force standard and atomic force microscope microcantilevers and plastic deformation (nano-indentation) tests are being investigated to support nanomechanical investigators who are using atomic force microscopy to probe the physical characteristics of matter at the nanoscale. If successful, the results of this effort will place NIST ahead of other NMIs on measuring and calibrating extremely low forces. The work by the MMD in science-based manufacturing is important in obtaining fundamental knowledge of manufacturing and metrology processes that, from a mechanistic perspective, will enable advances in processes and their control that are critical to moving current and next-generation manufacturing capabilities in the United States forward. However, this program cannot, and should not, address all fundamental issues in process modeling. It needs to be focused on measurement science and the needs of measurement services and standards. In emerging areas such as wireless sensors, NIST researchers are acknowledged leaders in the development of standards. They developed a testbed for using and demonstrating wireless sensors (temperature and vibration). A sensor network on the shop floor was implemented as a validation platform for sensor and networking standards in factory environments. Given the likely widespread impact of this technology, it is critical that this leadership role be maintained with appropriate investment. ADEQUACY OF INFRASTRUCTURE The facilities and equipment of the MMD are very good, with state-of-the-art equipment found in each of the programs. For example, the large-mass calibration equipment is globally unparalleled. Other examples include optics (flat and spherical surface metrology equipment) and nanostructured-optics fabrication facilities. New equipment such as the laser lithography tool (with expected delivery in late 2010), a metal-based additive manufacturing system (still in the procurement process), and the newly automated calibration (mass and microphone) facilities will help the division to meet its objectives. The staff is extremely well suited to meet the objectives of the division and has demonstrated this capability with a very productive and successful recent history. There is no doubt that the staff will be able to continue its mission in a successful manner. Furthermore, it is hoped that the newly automated systems will enable the staff to spend more time conducting research.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES AND IMPACT The MMD continues to do a very good job of developing standards, providing calibration services, and establishing traceability. It remains at the state of the art in force measurement, optics metrology, machine-tool metrology, and acoustics metrology. The division has significant impact on the nation and the world through its broad spectrum of standards work, from defining new standards, to supporting current standards, to providing new fundamental definitions for next-generation standards. For example, MMD personnel are actively involved in the development of new standards (e.g., five-axis coordinated motion standards and Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] and ISO standards for wireless sensors). With respect to supporting current standards, services for the calibration of geometry (e.g., flatness, sphericity), mass, force, acceleration, and acoustical properties are state of the art and second to none. The MMD is developing new techniques to address next-generation standards such as a low-power precision magnetic levitation system. This system provides a link between present mass calibrations that are done at atmospheric pressure and the next-generation alternative calibrations that will be executed in vacuum. Systems such as this will enable the United States to lead in mass metrology and calibration well into the 21st century. CONCLUSIONS Following are the conclusions of the panel based on its assessment of the Manufacturing Metrology Division: The staff of the MMD are doing high-quality, innovative work and are to be commended for their outstanding efforts. The research portfolio of the MMD is well distributed, from mature to emerging technologies, and from low-risk to high-risk projects. The MMD is supporting standards from cradle to grave and rebirth, including the development of new standards, the calibration of artifacts to the current standards, and new concepts on which next-generation standards are developed. The MMD’s measurement services are invaluable to the U.S. economy and for national security. From a national perspective, the division’s calibration services provide a baseline for many sectors of the economy. From an international perspective, global commerce relies on the ability to relate standards used in the United States to those used in other countries. The MMD is customer-driven and clearly understands the importance of its work with respect to manufacturing, engineering, and science. The MMD has improved the process for selecting new projects and focus areas. It should continue to develop this process and ensure its transparency. The workload has increased as new capabilities are added to the MMD, but funding for personnel has remained relatively flat. More funds for personnel are necessary to enable the MMD to continue to expand its critical functions.
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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory: Fiscal Year 2010 The MMD should continue to enhance its current capabilities by means of automation in order to improve accuracy, reduce costs, broaden operational ranges, reduce uncertainty, and reduce turnaround time. This change would also have the effect of freeing personnel from routine calibration tasks, enabling them to spend more time on advanced research efforts. Much of the MMD metrology infrastructure is aging and will need to be updated or repaired in the near future. Funds will be necessary to update these systems, develop models of next-generation metrology systems that are more reliable and lower in cost, and then develop these next-generation systems.