Congressional Briefing: “Next Generation Materials for Manufacturing Competitiveness”

Event Recap

Manufacturing matters on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from across the United States and across parties are increasingly focused on finding strategies to create manufacturing jobs and boost America’s industrial competitiveness.

Beyond the usual debates on manufacturing policy — on issues like tax, trade, and regulation — it’s crucial that leaders also consider one of the deeper fundamentals of competitiveness: Innovation. Right now, emerging innovations in the field of materials science promise technological advances that can support the creation of valuable new products, jobs, and national wealth. Policymakers should take note.

On October 3, MForesight: Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight hosted a Congressional Briefing, in conjunction with the House Manufacturing Caucus, focused on next generation materials for manufacturing competitiveness. The briefing highlighted two recent MForesight reports on promising technologies: Metamaterials and High Entropy Alloys, and a joint report with The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society, Harnessing Materials Innovations To Support Next-Generation Manufacturing Technologies. Over 50 members of the advanced manufacturing community joined MForesight in exploring ways in which manufacturers, government agencies, and leading research institutions can work together to accelerate innovation and seize opportunities. Speakers included:

  • Sridhar Kota, Executive Director, MForesight
  • Ed Herderick, Director of Additive, Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, The Ohio State University
  • Chris Spadaccini, Director of the Center for Engineered Materials and Manufacturing, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Dan Miracle, Chief Scientist (Acting), Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Research Laboratory
A snapshot from our briefing.

High entropy alloys are a special type of alloys with potential to provide new material properties, unique combinations of properties, and affordable replacements for rare or costly materials. These alloys will create new choices to manufacturers and create alternatives to materials that are scarce, hazardous, expensive, or subject to global restrictions.

Metamaterials promise the power to engineer artificial materials and custom-tailored properties to realize new possibilities that will span industrial sectors. Potential applications include vastly improved medical imaging technologies, new clean energy generation and storage, and a range of defense tools.

These advances in materials sciences will make it possible for US firms to manufacture new products with increased efficiency. They’re pathways to solving a range of societal challenges from environment to health to national security. And the economic implications are profound: By 2025, it’s estimated that metamaterial manufacturing alone will be a multi-billion-dollar market.

Yet, as panelists emphasized, there are still significant hurdles to realizing the potential of these coming breakthroughs. Manufacturers need support in turning laboratory innovations into useful products that can be produced at scale.

Both metamaterials and HEAs require strategic public- and private-sector partnerships for research and investment. Congress can play an important role in facilitating these new partnerships. Universities, research agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private firms can also drive important progress. As a voice for diverse public and private players in America’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem, MForesight is committed to helping the United States seize emerging opportunities through next generation materials.

View the briefing’s slides here.