IVDT_In Vitro Diagnostics Technology

IVD Technology, Spring 2013

Issue link: http://dc.cn.ubm-us.com/i/125322

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 43

FINAL THOUGHTS How To Bring Manufacturing Back Home Politicians fnally took notice of the alarming loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs when President Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership at Carnegie Mellon University in June 2011. Many scientists and engineers had noticed the danger signs of advanced-manufacturing decline much earlier, however. A 2007 World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC) study conducted by my colleagues and me revealed that countries not manufacturing high-tech goods "are increasingly at a disadvantage, because they do not gain the required experience from meeting the newest manufacturing challenges in the production of the latest high-tech products." While manufacturing employment remained relatively steady between 1973 and 2001, the United States lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2009. Indeed, many industries today lack the proper stafing and infrastructure to enable the translation of new inventions to products: Li-ion batteries, fuel cells, fatpanel displays, and cameras are but a handful of examples. As such, back-and-forth communication and continued collaboration between those who originate the technology and those who manufacture it are lost. Our universities are still considered the best, but if we stop manufacturing the best new products on-shore, we will also lose our standing in formal education. Tis country used to "educate the world," and we could aford that largesse when we had a big lead in manufacturing. Tis lead has vanished, and other countries can now implement our ideas faster and with more money. In the United States the gap between research and manufacturing is growing wider, and universities look with disdain at manufacturing courses in their curricula. Tis is a result, in part, of a culture that no longer values manufacturing as it once did. All Is Not Lost Despite these issues, reversing the loss of the manufacturing base in the United States is still possible based on our national strengths of fexibility, risk taking, diversity, imagination, space, and resources. At UC Irvine, for instance, we have been thinking about how present-day large-scale manufacturing is centralized and expensive, and requires retooling for product updates. Tis manufacturing paradigm stifes innovation, lacks agility, and excludes small frms, individuals, and 42 IVD TEC HNOL O G Y | SP RIN G 2013 magenta cyan yellow black poorer regions. However, three approaches to afordable and small-footprint (desktop) manufacturing now exist: additive manufacturing, mask-less lithography, and mechanical micro-manufacturing. Such desktop technology allows creative individuals to rapidly customize designs, respond to changing fabrication specifcations, and manufacture prototype, small-lot, or single personalized products, such as prosthetics. Unfortunately, current desktop machines are limited: often they are single-material, unit-process manufacturing tools with low throughput and limited potential for variations in size or complexity. At UCI we are rethinking advanced manufacturing to allow more people access to relatively inexpensive platforms able to execute multiple manufacturing steps, enable product creation in diferent materials, and accommodate multiple relative and absolute tolerances. Tis development will resemble the evolution of personal computers in terms of platform architecture, unifed language for diferent applications, end-product fexibility, small dimensions, and ability to empower individuals. Tis decentralized approach to revitalizing manufacturing will exploit two U.S. strengths, ingenuity and individualism, while providing a model for other nations and international networks. Research will still be global, but manufacturing will no longer be automatically "elsewhere." Just as the iPhone has empowered individuals to create interactive tools and environments, the open architecture of the proposed desktop factories will provide a platform and systematic foundation for new manufacturing techniques and goods. Additionally, we must re-engineer engineering by redirecting education toward a science-based understanding of "making things," and enable economic and societal transformation of productivity and creativity with generalpurpose, high-value-added manufacturing stations. For this to happen, the United States must invest in manufacturing education and in building the next generation of distributed manufacturing tools. Most of all, through education we must prepare the future workforce by reconnecting science, manufacturing, and innovation through transformative education programs, diversity, and knowledge-transfer activities. Marc Madou is Chancellor Professor and BioMEMS Lab Director, University of California, Irvine. He can be reached via e-mail at mmadou@uci.edu. i v d t e c hnol ogy. com ES234785_IV1305_042.pgs 04.19.2013 21:55 UBM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of IVDT_In Vitro Diagnostics Technology - IVD Technology, Spring 2013