CSIR Materials Science and Manufacturing
The South African manufacturing sector is in a de-industrialisation phase with the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product dropping from 24% in the early 1980s to 13.7% in 2015. The number of people employed in the sector has dropped by more than 25% over the same period.
Advanced manufacturing has a particularly important role to play in re-industrialisation and the creation of decent, well-paying jobs. Competitive advantage is increasingly dependent on combining new knowledge and improved technologies (the so-called advanced factors of production) rather than the traditional factors of production like labour, materials and energy.
Disruptive change enabled by new and emerging technologies is happening in the global manufacturing sector as much as (if not more than) in any other sector. This fundamental discontinuity with the past presents both a threat and opportunity and it is widely recognised that manufacturing firms that do not adapt quickly to this wave of change will not survive. On the other hand, firms that prepare for and embrace the new opportunities can become global players and grow exponentially.
The CSIR helps catalyse the re-industrialisation of South Africa by:
- understanding and applying advanced materials and advanced manufacturing technologies, especially the convergence of such technologies, and
- leveraging the South African science, engineering and technology community to research, develop and implement local product and process solutions.
CSIR Materials Science and Manufacturing integrates research and innovation over the full range of technology readiness levels and over a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines, to deliver innovative solutions to industry.
The unit is establishing an enabling platform for exponential manufacturing to spearhead exponential innovation in an effort to rapidly scale technologies to achieve breakthrough solutions in partnership with industry. Other initiatives include establishing a manufacturing industry development programme and launching a product lifecycle management centre of competence.
The unit’s research, development and innovation rely on nine broad technology platforms, each of which addresses a pressing national need, namely health solutions, water treatment solutions, infrastructure solutions, national safety and security solutions, industry competitiveness solutions, titanium beneficiation, energy technologies, polymers and composites, mining automation solutions.
CSIR Materials Science and Manufacturing is also developing technologies that underpin the next industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and establishing a micro-nano manufacturing capability. In addition the unit is developing new advanced materials which enable new technologies and products with the potential to catalyse new industrial activity. The main focus of materials research is nanostructured materials, functional polymers, composites, light metals and energy storage materials.