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Executive Summary THIS IS A SPORT ABOUT ~LATIONSHIPS how to understand them and how to nurture them. What relationships? The relationships among the producers of materials and the users of materials. These relationships are depicted visually in Figure ES-1. This is also a report about processes. What processes? The processes of innovation from the generation of knowledge through development and application to the ultimate integration of a material into a useful product. These processes are typically and linearly depicted in Figure ES-2. Industry · Equipment Manufacturers · Parts Suppliers · Material Suppliers / Academia \ Government FIGURE ES-1 Relationships in the MS&E community. Government Laboratories
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2 MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING Phase 0: Phase 1: Phase 2: Knowledge- Material Concept Material/Process Base Research Development ......... ~ in . . Development ,,,,,, Phase 3: Phase 4: Transition to Product Production Development ~ ~r ~ - I FIGURE ES-2 Notional phases of the innovation process. The committee recognized, however, that no two developments are alike, and development processes are actually a series of iterative decision loops. The real-life case studies in this report provide a more accurate depiction of the actual nonlinear processes between the generation of new knowledge and the integra- tion of materials into useful products (Chapter 2~. The purpose of the report is to recommend ways to strengthen the linkages among the key participants in the materials science and engineering (MS&E) community to accelerate the rate at which new ideas are integrated into finished products. The entire process can now take decades. Continuing U.S. competitive- ness requires that the time be shortened. The report describes the relationships and incentives of those who affect the MS&E community. The report then recommends how those relationships could be strengthened to accelerate the rate of introduction of new materials into the economy. The committee drew on experiences with three distinctive MS&E applica- tions advanced aircraft turbines, automobiles, and computer chips and information-storage devices. The committee examined these industries not to provide in-depth descriptions and evaluations of the linkages in these particular industries but to gain the insights from these industries to support general propo- sitions about strengthening linkages in the MS&E community as a whole. The committee's recommendations reinforce many observations, concerns, and recommendations being made in many different forums about the creative processes of research and development (R&D) and the importance of supporting them in a climate of budget reductions in both the public and private sectors (NRC, 1999a). The focus of the report, however, is on the relatively young discipline of MS&E. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee concluded that a complete definition of MS&E must incorpo- rate materials categories (e.g., metals, polymers, ceramics, composites), func- tionally differentiated end-use categories (e.g., electronic materials, biological materials, structural materials), functional interrelationships (i.e., structure, prop- erties, processing, and performance), as well as needs and constraints of users of materials throughout the materials value chain. To capture these complexities, the committee developed the following definition of MS&E. To extend the usefulness of all classes of materials, the field of MS&E seeks to understand, control, and improve upon five basic elements:
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY · the life-cycle performance of a material in an application (i.e., in a com 3 ponent or system) · the design and manufacture of a component or system, taking advantage of a material's characteristics · the properties of a material that make it suitable for manufacture and application · the structure of a material, particularly as it affects its properties and utility · the synthesis and processing by which a material is produced and its structure established The committee believes that the MS&E community should serve the near- term and long-term needs of the ultimate users of products made from materials. Therefore, the fundamental focus of this report is the importance of materials advances in the development of marketable products. The successful commer- cialization of materials and process advances is generally driven by one of four end-user forces: (1) cost reduction; (2) cost-effective improvement in quality or performance; (3) societal concerns, manifested either through government regu- lation or self-imposed changes to avoid government regulation; or (4) crises. Substantially different forces drive the MS&E R&D communities: (1) the availability of funding; (2) expansion of the basic knowledge base; (3) fulfillment of an educational mission; (4) the desire for professional recognition; and (5) the availability of equipment. A new material/process is not likely to be researched by the MS&E R&D community and adopted by industry unless it satisfies at least one of the perceived needs of each community. Detailed recommendations to improve linkages between the MS&E and the end-user communities throughout the materials/process development and com- mercialization processes are included in Chapter 3. Although all of these recom- mendations are important, the committee found that overcoming the barriers to Phase 2 (material/process development) R&D is the most promising way to shorten the time to market of laboratory innovations. Phase 2, or the "valley of death," is the transition point at which materials/process innovations change from a "technology push" from the MS&E research community to a "product pull" from the end-user community. The committee recommends that the MS&E and user communities focus their efforts on strengthening linkages during this phase of technology development. Despite major differences between industries, some general approaches can be taken to improve Phase 2 R&D. The key to accelerating the passage through Phase 2 is to establish an environment in which (1) innovations are desired and anticipated by those who will use them and (2) business considerations are ad- dressed early in the development process by researchers. The committee believes that focusing on improving the Phase 1 linkages that set the stage for product pull and establishing the potential viability of an industry for Phase 3 and Phase 4
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4 MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING (getting down to business) will improve the chances that materials and processing innovations will be successfully commercialized. The committee recommends that the following primary mechanisms be given priority to establish product pull in the early stages of technology development (during Phase 1 and, perhaps, Phase 0~: · consortia and funding mechanisms to support "precompetitive" research · industry road maps to set priorities for materials research · university centers of excellence to coordinate multidisciplinary research and facilitate industry-university interactions . The committee recommends that the following developments be given prior- ity to improve the transition of materials advances from Phase 2 to production implementation: · collaboration with end-user industries to identify the type of data required by product designers to assess new material/processes · investigation of methods to improve the research infrastructure for mate- rials suppliers and parts suppliers · extension of the patent-protection period, especially for applications that require extended certification periods · development of industrial ecology as an integral part of the education and expertise of both MS&E researchers and product designers development of a regulatory climate based on constructive cooperation and goal setting to promote the adoption of new materials that achieve or enhance societal goals REPORT ORGANIZATION The findings of the committee have been organized into four chapters. Chapter 1 describes the importance of materials and processing technology to the U.S. economy, develops a taxonomy to bound the field of MS&E, and describes the study task. Chapter 2 introduces the conceptual schema the committee used to assess the materi- als development and commercialization processes. Chapter 3 contains the committee's analysis of the critical linkages between industry, government, and universities and recommends ways to improve these linkages to accelerate the commercialization of new materials and processes. Finally, Chapter 4 contains priority recommendations for improving the materials development process and reducing the time to market of advances in materials and process technologies. REFERENCE NRC (National Research Council) 1999a. Harnessing Science and Technology for America's Eco- nomic Future. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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