By Eric Lanke, NFPA President/CEO
Back in May I participated in a workshop on Fluid Power Advanced Manufacturing, hosted by the University of Minnesota and funded by the Manufacturing Machines and Equipment (MME) Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The objective of the workshop was to bring together experts from industry, academia, and national labs to identify the pre-competitive research objectives and approaches of integrating manufacturing innovations with model-based design and analysis for fluid power components and systems.
It’s a good thing NFPA and Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) recently launched the Fluid Power Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (FPAMC), because it was helpful to have such a structure in place in order to help populate the NSF workshop with the experts and content they were looking for. Thirty people were in attendance, including manufacturing experts from NFPA/CCEFP members Caterpillar, Danfoss Power Solutions, Deltrol Fluid Products, HUSCO International, Muncie Power Products, Netshape Technologies, Simerics, and Steelhead Composites.
We heard presentations and interacted with a number of outside experts in several areas of manufacturing technology. They helped us understand the current state-of-the-art in additive manufacturing, powdered metal technology, composite materials, the use of lasers for thermal processing, metal cutting, coatings, metrology, and computational fluid dynamics. It was then our task to synthesize all that information, compare it to the manufacturing needs of the fluid power industry, and suggest several pre-competitive research areas that the NSF MME could invest in that would help advance our own state-of-the-art technology.
This last task we did in a series of breakout groups. The group I was in prioritized and proposed projects addressing our industry’s needs in five key areas:
If you could pick only one or two of these project ideas to see to fruition, which would you choose? A full report on the workshop outcomes is expected shortly, and I’ll be sure to share it with the entire NFPA membership for review and feedback. If we expect to see the NSF invest in any of these areas, we’re going to have to get much more specific on what can truly make a difference.