Technology advances every day, whether it’s in giant strides or baby steps. Advanced manufacturing is how industry leaders find a nexus between the present and the future of technology. Using technology to improve products and processes is a system of advancement like any other. When used in manufacturing, it will make processes more efficient, and further improve the quality of products.
When it comes to advanced manufacturing, and the general trends in the industry, NASA is a great teacher that every innovative manufacturer can learn from. Recently, they hosted a “State of NASA” address in Huntsville, Alabama, inviting social media leaders and manufacturers to take part.
As advanced manufacturers, and perhaps the most well-known in the U.S., NASA knows what it means to be at the forefront of technology and advancement.
From Technology to Processes
Advanced manufacturing and a cycle of continuous improvement go hand-in-hand. As technology advances and systems grow more efficient, processes advance as well. In this cycle, technology and processes of manufacturing build upon each other.
A $19 billion requested budget for 2019 is giving NASA the opportunity to make big plans. Although NASA may seem more theoretical than practical, they are as much manufacturers and engineers as they are dreamers. Without advanced manufacturing, they can’t turn visions into reality.
NASA has a plan to use trips to the moon as a “step one” for exploring further into the solar system, including advancing toward Mars.
Improvement as a Priority
Manufacturers that make continual improvement and innovation a priority are easy to pick out. They are industry leaders. They are companies that produce something of high quality. They are always growing more efficient and improving their product.
The Acting Administrator at NASA, Robert Lightfoot, talked about creating new landers for the moon, about which he said: “This will give us a strategic presence in that lunar vicinity. And it will drive our activity with the commercial and international partners and help us further explore the moon and its resources, and translate that experience toward human missions to Mars.”
NASA is not only planning to manufacture new technology that will give them new opportunities for learning, but they are looking ahead at how that technology can be used to take space exploration further. Their future plan is ultimately built off current technology and current goals, making them an impressive example of advanced manufacturing.
The agency has also used 3D printing to create plastic parts. The use of 3D printing is often known as additive manufacturing, because it involves adding layers upon layers of material to form a 3D object. As you probably know, 3D printing is a popular emerging technology in today’s age.
3D printing is still a new technology, so it’s something that many advanced manufacturers use to build parts and products. Because 3D printing can build an object from scratch, it can be used to quickly manufacture parts and turnkey products.
The use of 3D printing is just one of the ways NASA uses advanced manufacturing. Although it’s still a developing technology, it’s foreseeable that there will be a lot of 3D printing in the future. Advanced manufacturers recognize this, and they are not afraid to use new technology to propel them into the future, to create better products and efficient processes.