Advanced Manufacturing Energy Basics

Advanced manufacturing uses new technology to improve products or processes.

Manufacturing jobs account for about 9% of the U.S. workforce, with nearly 13 million jobs across a variety of industries. These manufacturers use a lot of energy. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration, manufacturing represented about 30% of the energy used in the United States in 2021.

Advanced manufacturing concepts help people use less energy and reduce carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gas emissions.

Advanced Manufacturing Examples

  • Additive manufacturing uses design software or 3D printing to build objects one layer at a time.
  • Robotics employs computer-programmed machines (or robots) to perform manufacturing tasks.
  • Automated manufacturing processes use advanced controls and sensors to increase productivity and reduce costs.
  • Electrification replaces technologies that use fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) with technologies powered by electricity.
  • Novel materials reduce the energy required to develop products and improve their ability to be recycled.

Advanced manufacturing is also developing new clean energy products, including solar (or photovoltaic) panels, wind turbine blades, and systems that store energy (such as batteries).

Advanced Manufacturing Technologies

Advanced manufacturing technologies can address manufacturing goals, such as increasing product recyclability, powering processes with renewable energy, and improving supply chains.

Learn about the following advanced manufacturing technologies and approaches:

Bio-optimized technologies take apart plastic waste using a combination of chemical and natural processes, making it possible to recycle and upcycle (or find a new use for) plastic goods and inform ways to design products for recyclability.

Resilient power electronics enable seamless integration of renewable energy resources with the electrical grid.

Supply chain analyses help manufacturers understand opportunities for improvement during all stages of a product's life.

Thermoplastic resins, which soften to a liquid in high heat and then harden again when cooled and can be made all or in part out of natural materials, make products such as wind turbine blades more recyclable.

Roll-to-roll manufacturing is a method of coating flexible materials with thin films of material, making possible new clean energy products such as solar panels and batteries.

Powering the manufacturing industry with renewable energy sources can pave the way for combined heat and power systems, power electronics, and energy storage manufacturing solutions that use clean energy to enable continuous operation.

Benefits of Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced manufacturing ensures that:

  • The clean energy technologies we need for the future will be manufactured cost effectively in the United States
  • The products we rely on every day are made in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways
  • U.S. manufacturers will continue to employ local workers in the future while using U.S. resources to make products.

Additional Resources

For more information, visit:

NREL's Advanced Manufacturing Research

U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy resources:

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office

Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office.