DOST Mega Maker Space for Inclusive Innovation Boosts PH R&D Initiatives

​Special to the SDN — Science and Digital News:

By Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara and Dr. Blessie A. Basilia

Editor’s Note: Dr. Guevara is the undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Dr. Basilia is the chief of the Materials and Science Division, Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI).

P_20181219_094619_1DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara at the recent 2018 2nd Technology Business Incubation (TBI) Summit, Manila Hotel, Manila, organized by the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). (EKU)

THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) graduate scholarship programs have been producing 500 Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduates in Science and Engineering each year since 2015.

These scholars are capable of research, development and innovation. Some of them are able to translate their thesis or dissertation into startup companies. Most of them are employed locally while rendering return service for their scholarship. Very few of them are able to find work as researchers in the country.

This situation is reflected in the Global Innovation Index 2018 where, among 126  countries, the Philippines ranked 17th in graduates in science and engineering, 7th in research talent, and 40th in global R&D companies.

Meanwhile, research and development (R&D) in local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is rare. One of the often-cited reasons is the cost of R&D equipment and lack of R&D personnel.DOST -Science and Digital NewsImage: Proposed Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen) and its services. (DOST-ITDI)

In the last seven years, DOST built several facilities to give SMEs access to equipment and experts for product development, product improvement, standards compliance and global competitiveness.

These facilities include the:

  • Die and Mold Solution Center,
  • Gear Making and Assembly Facility,
  • Surface Engineering Facilities,
  • Automotive Parts Testing Laboratory,
  • Textile Natural Fiber R&D and Processing Center,
  • Natural Dyes Center,
  • Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles,
  • Nanotechnology Laboratory,
  • Packaging Technology Division,
  • Electronic Product Development Center,
  • Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory; and,
  • the Modular Multi-Industry Innovation Center for Oils, Blends and Sauces, which will open next year.

All these facilities comprise the DOST Mega Maker Space for Inclusive Innovation for products such as metal parts for automotive, aerospace and machines; textile and fabric; electrical and electronic devices and appliances; nano-composites and new materials; and new condiments, lifestyle-friendly food and emergency food.

DOST 1 - Science and Digital NewsImage: Examples of 3D printed parts and components. (DOST-ITDI)

In preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution, the DOST Mega Maker Space will expand next year to include the Advanced Mechatronics, Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory (AMERIAL) and the Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen)

The Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMCen) is a DOST national facility equipped with advanced laboratory and prototyping three-dimensional (3D) printers for various applications.

The center aims to make an impact on the (i) fundamental understanding of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies, (ii) utilization of indigenous and non-proprietary materials development for use in 3D AM systems and (iii) new process and applications for 3D AM technologies to complement or replace conventional manufacturing processes.

DOST 2 - Science and Digital NewsImage: Key areas for research: Aerospace & Defense, Agriculture, Automotive, and Medical/Healthcare/Pharmaceutical. (DOST-ITDI)

The AMCen building will be located in the DOST Compound (South Gate entrance) at General Santos Ave., Bicutan, Taguig City, Philippines. It has a lot area of 2,000 sqm and will house two (2) laboratories, the Materials Development Laboratory and the Prototyping Facility.

AMCen will offer the following services: 1. Development of New/Advanced Materials (polymer, ceramics, composites, metal) for AM, 2. Design concepts, 3. Education formation (contribution to curriculum), 4. Training Services, 5. Prototyping Services, 6. Testing/Characterization Services, 7. R & D Collaborations, 8. Contract Research, and 9. Policy/Standards formulation.

The project aims to benefit the Department of National Defense (DND) and its research and development institutes, namely, Naval Research and Technology Development Center (NRTDC), and Air Force Research and Development Center (AFRDC), Medical and Pharmaceutical companies, Agriculture and other Manufacturing industries.

To sustain the country’s growth and competitiveness in the global scale, Additive Manufacturing is seen as an emerging technology with the potential to improve the way products are developed, manufactured and even stored and delivered.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a technology which is used to manufacture prototype parts or products from a computer model.  It works by forming the prototypes through computer controlled layer by layer deposition of materials using a 3D printer.

This setup enables production of numerous parts on demand using only one or two kinds of materials.  With the advancements in additive manufacturing, particularly in the metal 3D printing field, customized products will become less expensive, consumers will become micro-manufacturers, and customer demands will be met more quickly.  In addition, the supply chain will become more local, globally connected, and more efficient.DOST 3 - Science and Digital NewsImage: Conventional Manufacturing compared with Additive Manufacturing. (DOST-ITDI)

One of the biggest challenges to widespread adoption of AM is the supply of materials (e.g., polymers, metals, and ceramics) that can be used to fabricate items.

Currently, only limited and expensive materials are available commercially for AM use, particularly in the field of metals and ceramics. With the materials development laboratory, the input/feed materials or ink for AM can be produced and made available locally resulting to reduction of imports.

The inventory of numerous parts can be minimized by 3D printing of these parts using a single material. This reduces the logistics or transport necessary for various parts, reducing truckloads of raw materials being transported.

In addition, emissions due to manufacture and transport of different products as well as waste materials from conventional manufacturing can also be reduced.

On the other hand, the research and prototyping facility will assist industry to design, model and optimized parts or products for increased strength, minimize weight or increase functionality using a software before actual production.

AMCen will engage with both academe and industry to further strengthen its impact and benefits. The concept or idea of a new or existing product in the market may come from academe, industry and researchers in general.

Materials specification and design as well as performance specification shall be determined for existing product. New products and design idea can be created, and its performance tested virtually using a computer prior to actual prototyping.

Through this process, product innovation can be fast-tracked for development through actual prototyping and performance evaluation prior to commercialization. Furthermore, new processes may need to be developed to accommodate newly developed materials or materials requirement of the industry.  The engagements with the academe, industry, government and private researchers will be covered with a MOA or MOU.DOST 4 - Science and Digital NewsImage: Key areas of Industry 4.0. (DOST-ITDI)

This technology has penetrated every major industry from automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer products to medical and dental.  Most common applications include functional prototypes, fit and assembly models, patterns for prototype tooling, patterns for metal casting, presentation models, visual aids, and tooling components.

Today, AM is used in all sectors of industries from space to toy to food and represents a multi-billion dollar industry.  The future of AM will be driven more towards design and materials innovation for manufacturing of real products.

The creation of the AMCen will increase the competitiveness of our local industries through technological and product innovations and commercial applications of additive manufacturing technologies and materials science.

AM’s unique processes, techniques and technologies will open up new ground for innovation and will offer a range of logistical, economic and technical advantages such as efficiency, creativity and accessibility.

For consumer protection, standards for AM shall be formulated or adopted in coordination with the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS). The BPS shall convene the committee composed of representatives from consumers, industry, testing laboratory, professional organizations, research and development facility, regulatory and academe.

The establishment of AMCen will Increase the country’s readiness for Industry 4.0.  The significance of the AMCen are the following: 1) Sustainable development through efficient use of materials and reduced environmental impact, 2) Increased in innovation and technology through rapid prototyping of concepts on design and materials resulting to increase in patents and publication, 3) Investment in Human Capital through Training and transfer of technology on AM, and 4) Adoption of regulatory framework on additive manufacturing for consumer protection of AM products. (DOST-ITDI)

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