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The FY 2020 Budget Request: Manufacturing R&D

A review of requested funding for manufacturing R&D programs at the Defense Department, Department of Energy, NIST, and the National Science Foundation.

See also: FY 2020 Science Appropriations Dashboard | R&D in the President's Budget


A great many DOD research and exploratory development programs throughout the services touch on manufacturing-relevant topics, particularly additive manufacturing for an array of technologies. A few highlights are below.

Defense-Wide Manufacturing S&T Program. This program element includes funding for both DOD’s advanced manufacturing innovation institutes established under what is now known as the Manufacturing USA initiative, as well as the cross-military Manufacturing Technology program under the auspices of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). On the institute side, the Pentagon budget intends to continue support of the department’s eight manufacturing institutes at a reduced level, reaching new agreements as institutes move out of their initial phase and continuing to seek external supporters. The OSD ManTech program will seek to develop and mature manufacturing tools and processes in electronics, composites, and energetics.

Part of the overall decline seen in the table below is due to the realignment of the National Security Innovation Network (formerly MD5) out of the Defense-Wide Manufacturing S&T line item. That program received $15 million from Congress in FY 2019 appropriations.

DOD manufacturing science and technology programs in the FY 2020 budget.


Navy and Air Force Manufacturing Technology Programs (ManTech). The Naval program would maintain flat funding across composites, electronics, and metals fabrication. The small uptick is for technology development around the submarine production industrial base. For Air Force, Congress added $23.8 million in FY 2019 for F-35 battery technology, materials research, and small turbine engine modeling, which accounts for the dropoff in FY 2020 seen above.


Like DOD, several DOE programs contain activities relevant for manufacturing. A selection of those programs are reviewed below.

Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). As is the case with other programs in the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, reductions to AMO activities would be deep and broad, as seen below. The budget includes $54.1 million less than in FY 2019 for early-stage R&D projects; $10 million less for materials research in harsh environments (and despite the establishment of the crosscutting Harsh Environment Materials Initiative, toward which AMO would contribute $10 million); and $38.4 million less for the establishment of new competitively-awarded R&D consortia. The Manufacturing Development Facility at Oak Ridge Lab would receive a $16.5 million or 66 percent reduction.

The budget also de-funds AMO’s three Clean Energy Manufacturing Institutes ($14 million each in FY 2019), two Innovation Hubs on desalination for energy use and critical materials, and the Industrial Assessment Centers and Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships, which provide technical support for small and medium manufacturers ($30 million combined in FY 2019).

Solar Energy. In FY 2020, the requested $4.5 million as seen below will support the Solar Prize for domestic manufacturing. The solar program would end all other support for small business technology innovation and R&D on scalable production.

DOE manufacturing programs in the FY 2020 request.


Nuclear Energy. DOE recommends a moderate cutback in funding from FY 2019 appropriations for the Transformational Challenge Reactor program, which seeks to design, build, and demonstrate a micro-reactor core using advanced techniques, including additive manufacturing.

NNSA. NNSA intends to expand funding for additive manufacturing qualification and certification, and to increase investment in manufacturing science and engineering, for the production of tools and materials used in stockpile management.


NIST’s budget includes a $30 million or 20.6 percent reduction to the Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Measurements program, which funds a broad portfolio of research in areas including biomanufacturing, human-robot collaboration, and 3D printing. The Administration would terminate activities including explosives detection and body armor testing as well as energy and environmental-related efforts such as recycling of plastics. Funding would be eliminated for the Advanced Materials Center of Excellence. NIST would also cease operation of its beamlines at Brookhaven National Laboratory, ending a decades-long investment in materials characterization instruments, according to the agency. Within an overall declining budget, the Administration would prioritize manufacturing research that supports quantum systems, microelectronics and artificial intelligence applications.

IST Manuf_FY20


For the third year in a row, the Administration seeks to eliminate the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a federal-state-industry partnership that provides technical and business assistance to local manufacturing communities in all 50 states. The MEP elimination would impact over 2,500 partners and approximately 9,900 client firms, according to agency budget documents. Meanwhile, funding would be maintained for Manufacturing USA, a multi-agency initiative that currently supports 14 public-private manufacturing research institutes across the country, though not all of those institutes would survive in the request (see DOE section above). The request includes $10 million to continue the committed start-up funding for the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals as well as $5 million for coordination of the Manufacturing USA network.

For more on the FY 2020 NIST budget, see this AAAS summary on physical science.


As one of the Administration’s few stated priorities for NSF, advanced manufacturing would see overall flat funding from FY 2018 across the agency’s research directorate portfolio, versus the large proposed cuts elsewhere in the agency’s budget (see AAAS physical science overview). As shown in the table below, NSF advanced manufacturing research is primarily supported by the Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences directorates, with the divisions of Materials Research and Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation playing important roles. Proposed investments would support research that fundamentally transforms manufacturing capabilities and processes, with potential benefits such as reduced time to market, energy savings, or reduced environmental impact of manufactured products.

NSF Manuf_FY20


For the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, funding would go towards research in cyber-manufacturing systems and collaborative robots that work alongside people in manufacturing environments to increase productivity, performance, and safety. The Biological Sciences Directorate would fund research on biomanufacturing and would continue to support the Engineering Biology Research Consortium that seeks to build a robust bioeconomy. Within the National Nanotechnology Initiative budget, there is a proposed $8 million or 22 percent reduction to sustainable nanomanufacturing activities, which focus on the development of industrial-scale methods for manufacturing functional nanoscale systems.

Cover Image Credit: NIST/Marten Czamanske


Matt Hourihan


David Parkes

Program Associate