We have identified, in discussion with the research community, four strategic Research Visions that will provide a focus for funding opportunities offered by the theme. Together, these form our vision for a productive, innovative, competitive manufacturing base for the UK

21st Century Products

  • Certain products will define the 21st Century. Such products might be ‘smart’ and/or multi-functional or they might enable or enhance our well-being. Products that are unimaginable today may be enabled by new technologies, e.g., quantum technologies, or they could come from new and advanced materials that are then incorporated into components.
  • Research efforts will generate a suite of flexible tools that enable the manufacturing process to be integrated in the discovery, design and development of these new products, allowing for rapid prototyping with scale-up capability embedded.

Digital Manufacturing

  • Digital manufacturing optimises the design process, allows for simulation and visualisation of processes and enables fast and responsive control and connectivity of manufacturing systems and their supply chains.
  • This can be achieved through the integration of computer based systems and capturing emerging capabilities from the information and communication technologies research base.
  • Intelligent factories will be characterised by IT-driven production that is highly automated, and in some cases completely autonomous.

Sustainable Industries

  • Manufacturing industries will be able to meet the needs of present sectors/customers without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own manufacturing needs.
  • This depicts a future where resource usage, resilience and security are transformed and where business models, manufacturing processes and product value/ownership are redefined.

New Industrial Systems

  • Evolution of the current predominantly centralised manufacturing system towards a portfolio of industrial systems that develop to become more effective at creating and capturing value at a variety of scales.
  • This vision could be interpreted at different levels:
    Tangible level - alternative machine tools, cellular manufacturing, self-healing tools, systems that self-build
    Different models of operation – alternative supply chains and business models
    Mass customisation in consumer products and personalisation of healthcare.