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Cybermanufacturing Systems (CM)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


The Cybermanufacturing Systems (CM) Program supports fundamental research to enable the evolution of a wide range of network-accessed manufacturing services that:

  • employ applications (or “apps”) that reside in the “cloud” and plug into an expansible, interactive architecture;
  • are broadly accessible, guarantee reliable execution and have capabilities that are transparent to users; and
  • are accessible at low cost to innovators and entrepreneurs, including both users and providers.

Current manufacturing software applications are predominantly large, manufacturer-centric, general-purpose programs with the universal applicability needed to justify their development, marketing and acquisition costs.  They usually have broad capabilities, but are cumbersome to learn and often require expert intervention.  There is an opportunity for researchers to pursue research and educational efforts to accelerate the creation of an interoperating, cross-process manufacturing service layer that enables the rapid, bottom-up transformation of access to manufacturing services.  Such a service layer can allow creative entrepreneurs and companies to both furnish and access manufacturing apps that span the full spectrum from ideation to physical realization, giving rise to an era of “cybermanufacturing.” 

The cybermanufacturing service layer differs from existing Internet services in that it needs an architecture that can incrementally incorporate and organize the rich and deep semantic elements of manufacturing knowledge, requiring an almost unlimited capacity to expand the range and depth of content contributed in the form of partitioned, but interoperating, manufacturing applications.  Such efforts are well-suited to incubation in universities, where potential service layer architectures and application modules can be prototyped at low cost, used in coursework and tested by students and faculty.

Of particular interest is the exploration of the tradeoffs between generality and tractability in algorithmic representations of manufacturing knowledge.  In the classic example, the automation of integrated circuit manufacturing depends on restricting device design options to those that can be produced with 100% reliability by a standardized set of manufacturing processes.  As a result, the problem of compiling manufacturing instructions is made tractable by limiting available design options to those that can be manufactured using proven methods.  In practice, the considerable design inefficiencies due to such limitations are more than compensated for by the cost savings due to dependable execution.

Research areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Frameworks for partitioning the mechanical design space to ensure tractability of design-to-manufacturing translation, possibly by part type or application domain;
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD) engines that facilitate the restriction of design options, possibly by facilitating the creation of generic part designs that can be customized by entering a limited number of dimensional parameters;
  • Product- and domain-focused parametric design apps that connect to manufacturing resources and incorporate process constraints to enable part design and fabrication by users who lack detailed process knowledge;
  • Software systems for generating and verifying machine instructions and providing guidance in design for manufacturability;
  • Model-based process and machine controls that plug-and-play in a strongly integrated and networked environment;
  • Methods for selecting and efficiently allocating networked manufacturing resources;
  • Process and materials selection systems;
  • Methods for establishing and maintaining evidence-based certification and controlled visibility of explicit and implicit assumptions;
  • System architectures that are implementable using existing Internet protocols or that aim to identify the specific changes that are needed to existing Internet protocols to improve their effectiveness;
  • Software and protocols for promoting and accommodating user-developed, interoperating manufacturing apps, including hardware computing platforms, operating systems, and middleware; and
  • Methods for safeguarding the security and trustworthiness of cybermanufacturing system elements and integrating them to support end-to-end assurances.

Collaborations between engineering and computer science faculty are strongly encouraged, as are collaborations with software, networking, internet service and industrial companies, including the partner institutes of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI, http://manufacturing.gov/welcome.html) and their member companies. 

Proposals with industry collaborations can be submitted to the CM Program as Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals.  GOALI proposals have special requirements, as specified in the most recent GOALI solicitation, https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf12513.

Program contacts

Bruce Kramer
bkramer@nsf.gov (703) 292-5348 ENG/CMMI

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