By Robert J. Kriss, C2ST Editor
Many people think of science as a process for inventing things in a laboratory. But science need not stop at the laboratory door. The scientific method can also be used to develop economically competitive processes for manufacturing inventions on a commercial scale. “Smarter” manufacturing processes are key to the success of US manufacturing in the twenty-first century.
The Pandemic has drawn attention to the importance of the United States being able to manufacture products that are vitally important to the health of its citizens, such as masks, ventilators and other items of personal protective equipment (“PPE”). The experience of the last eight months has demonstrated that relying upon international supply chains to provide these goods is a mistake which must be corrected.
More generally, the decrease in manufacturing activity in the United States over several decades has caused many communities in the Midwest and elsewhere to suffer economic and social decline. Finding ways to make US manufacturing more economically competitive could make a positive difference in millions of Americans’ lives, both workers and consumers.
On September 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory opened the doors of its newly expanded Materials Engineering Research Facility. This Facility will enable scientists and business people to collaborate in developing manufacturing processes that will produce critically important materials in an economically sustainable way. One example of current research is the manufacture of synthetic fibers to be used in making the gold standard N95 face masks used to protect people from the spread of the coronavirus.
More information about how this new Argonne Facility will make manufacturing smarter and more successful can be found here.