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  • Photonics to Drive Investment Boost in Advanced Manufacturing

Photonics.com
Jul 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash., July 25, 2012 — Photonics technologies are already key enablers of advanced manufacturing, and new initiatives to boost the US's capabilities in that area will be a good use of the country's photonics R&D, leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, said this week.

On July 18, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology formally adopted a new report by the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a steering committee launched by President Barack Obama in June 2011. The "Report to the President on Capturing Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing" addresses needs in three broad categories: enabling innovation, securing the talent pipeline and improving the business climate.

Report to the President on Capturing Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing

"Photonics technologies are already the enablers behind advanced manufacturing, yet we are so far seeing only a thin slice of their full potential to drive growth and create new high-skilled jobs," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "Countries such as Germany and Korea that have invested heavily in photonics R&D are demonstrating the competitive advantage of these technologies through their lead positions in advanced manufacturing."

The 18-member AMP committee includes the leaders of MIT, the University of California, Berkeley, Northrop Grumman, Carnegie Mellon University, Ford, Intel, Corning and Honeywell. Under the objective of enabling innovation, the committee's recommendations include: establishing a national advanced manufacturing strategy, increasing R&D funding for top cross-cutting technologies, establishing a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes, and changing the treatment of tax-free bond-funded facilities at universities to enable greater and stronger interactions between institutions and industry.

"Photonics applications are exactly the sort of cross-cutting technologies that the report sees as 'vital to advance manufacturing,'" said Robert Lieberman, chairman of the SPIE committee on Engineering, Science and Technology Policy. "Photolithography and machine vision are just two examples. Without photonic technology, computer chips could not be fabricated, and the robots in advanced manufacturing plants would be blind. Even the ubiquitous 'date stamps' on bottles and cans would disappear."

Manufacturing Innovation Institute Model.Arthurs also cited technologies such as laser sintering, stereolithography and electron beam melting applications in 3-D printing for the rapid prototyping and manufacture of lighter-weight, higher-quality parts for airplanes and automobiles, and of better-performing and more comfortable hearing aids and joint implants. LEDs and holography provide highly reliable information for quality control, and optical systems use lasers to precisely cut, weld and align manufacturing equipment that produces more-accurate finished products.

"With these photonics applications, the results coming out of the manufacturing process are safer, more energy-efficient cars, more accurate medical equipment, and other life-enhancing innovations," Arthurs said. "The results for society are new better-paying, higher-satisfaction jobs and a stronger, more stable economy."

An interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) has been established by the administration to coordinate federal manufacturing resources and programs and to foster the creation of private-public partnerships focused on manufacturing innovation.

The new office, which is hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is acting on the AMP committee recommendation to establish a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes. In his budget for fiscal year 2013, President Obama proposed a one-time, $1 billion investment to build the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, consisting of up to 15 regional innovation institutes. Through regional workshops and other means, the AMNPO is gathering public input on the design of the proposed network.

Access the entire report and supporting documents at: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/pcast


GLOSSARY
holography
The optical recording of the object wave formed by the resulting interference pattern of two mutually coherent component light beams. In the holographic process, a coherent beam first is split into two component beams, one of which irradiates the object, the second of which irradiates a recording medium. The diffraction or scattering of the first wave by the object forms the object wave that proceeds to and interferes with the second coherent beam, or reference wave at the medium. The resulting...
photolithography
A lithographic technique using an image produced by photography for printing on a print-nonprint, sectioned surface.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
stereolithography
A method of creating real three-dimensional models by using lasers driven by CAD software. In contrast to the normal practice of removing material, this process polymerizes a liquid to quickly produce shapes that are untouched by human hands or cutting tools. Also known as three-dimensional imaging and three-dimensional modeling.  
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