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Mechanical Engineering. 2013;135(11):32-35. doi:10.1115/1.2013-NOV-1.
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This article explores the role of manufacturing industry as a key to innovation, economic health, and national security. As engineers and manufacturers develop new technologies, they build the capabilities to extend and innovate in new fields. Those innovations give manufacturers the performance or cost edge they need to compete in a crowded international marketplace. U.S. manufacturing innovation is lagging behind high-wage nations such as Germany and Japan. The article suggests that what the United States must do now is close the gap between innovation and commercial scale-up and production. It already leads the world in creating disruptive technologies and is rapidly moving towards energy independence. The imposing wage gap that once separated it from other nations is closing. Some American companies have begun reshoring manufacturing operations located in other nations already.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2013;135(11):36-41. doi:10.1115/1.2013-NOV-2.
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This article analyses the reasons and impact of shift of manufacturing startups from the United States to overseas. After years of refining prototypes and perfecting pilot plants, advanced manufacturing startups frequently look overseas when it is time to scale-up for commercial production. Both manufacturing and technology companies go abroad looking for partnerships, because it is easier for investors. When startups scale their manufacturing elsewhere, the United States loses more than a possible return on the research investment that made such breakthroughs possible. The preliminary research suggests that to fully realize the economic gains associated with innovation, new products and services developed by American innovators must be scaled-up within the US economy, as well as in overseas markets. The four suggestions that have been made include the following: increase financing options for later-stage development; create institutions and incentives; change the contours of market demand; and encourage firms to raise capital through initial public offerings.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2013;135(11):42-47. doi:10.1115/1.2013-NOV-3.
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This article focuses on the economic share of manufacturing industry in Germany and the role of Fraunhofer–Gesellschaft in maintaining the same. A principal factor in the manufacturing success of German small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) is the Fraunhofer–Gesellschaft (Fraunhofer Society), an independent non-governmental organization that provides high-quality, short-term, affordable applied research that small- and medium-sized firms could not otherwise afford. Fraunhofer's model is a classic government–industry partnership. The federal and state governments, private contract research, and publicly funded contract research each provide roughly one-third of its funding. Germany's government has long supported the application of technology to manufacturing. Its ongoing support for large-scale practical industrial research for small and large companies has helped keep factories and jobs in Germany. There is a need to focus more resources on applied research to harvest the benefits of the investments the nation already makes in basic technology.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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