The future of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. is being built at innovative facilities that enable experimentation in process and product development. The people and organizations at these next-generation facilities are part of a collaborative effort to remove barriers of entry and create an ecosystem to build supply chains and provide a path for the commercialization of emerging technologies.
These next-generation facilities are working on initiatives that include:
- Using advanced fiber technology to make programmable backpacks that have no wires or batteries but connect to the digital world.
- Using light instead of electronics to power cloud-based data centers, increasing the speed of transfer tenfold while drastically reducing energy use and cost.
- Extending the range of electric vehicles by reducing weight and mitigating energy loss during transfers.
This would not be possible without Manufacturing USA, a network of 16 manufacturing innovation institutes and their sponsoring federal agencies — the Departments of Commerce, Defense and Energy. Manufacturing USA was created in 2014 to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing by connecting people, ideas, and technology.
Here’s a look at a handful of next-generation facilities supported by the institutes that are shaping the future of U.S. advanced manufacturing.
AIM Photonics’ Test, Assembly and Packaging Facility
- Location: Rochester, N.Y.
- Institute: American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics
- Sponsor: Department of Defense
Integrated photonics involve using light for applications traditionally addressed through electronics. It is increasingly being applied in communications, laser-based radar and sensing because it dramatically improves on the performance and reliability of electronic integrated circuits while significantly reducing size, weight, and power consumption.
The AIM Photonics facility is the world’s first open-access Photonic Integrated Chip (PIC) Test, Assembly and Packaging Facility (TAP), making it a key component in AIM’s PIC manufacturing ecosystem by providing a connection point to the photonics supply chain. The TAP facility provides development and production process capabilities that have enabled more than 120 small and medium-sized businesses — which would otherwise be priced out of the market — to bring integrated photonic chip technologies through the product development cycle.
One application being advanced at the facility is photonic sensors using light as radar — or LIDAR. Tiny LIDAR sensors that provide real-time 3D mapping for driverless cars can also be used to manage database systems for cloud computing, detect sarin gases in national security environments, enhance medical imaging and rate food safety by measuring the interactivity of chemicals. Compared to traditional electronics, this new technology can increase data throughput at least tenfold while reducing energy consumption dramatically.