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This report on materials is not a sequel to the five or six high-quality reports published in certain Community countries over the last few years, nor does it attempt to summarize them. Nor is it a technical summary of the state of the art in new materials. It is rather to be seen as a survey of economic dynamics and strategy, carried out for the purpose of prompting political and industrial leaders throughout the European Community to reflect in some depth on the subject of materials. The report is arranged in five parts : the first is concerned with a definition of materials, the second with structural materials and their influence on the reconception of industrial processes, and this part is complemented by the third, which looks at the three main sectors using structural materials (transport, packaging, building and public works). The fourth part analyzes functional materials and the way in which they affect basic components in the technological system (information, energy, biotechnology). The fifth and last part makes a strategic analysis for Europe (in the spheres of industrial strategies, the role of the authorities and developments in employment and skills).

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Foreword

Foreword

Abstract
This report on materials is not a sequel to the five or six high-quality reports published in certain Community countries over the last few years, nor does it attempt to summarize them. Nor is it a technical summary of the state of the art in new materials. It is rather to be seen as a survey of economic dynamics and strategy, carried out for the purpose of prompting political and industrial leaders throughout the European Community to reflect in some depth on the subject of materials.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Introduction

Introduction

Abstract
Official priorities in most western countries, after shifting from information technology in the early 70s to new energy sources in the mid-70s and then to biomaterials technologies in the early 80s, are now focused on the development of materials. This strategy bears witness to a major alteration in the technology system, as Bertrand GILLE sees it, in that its four mainstays - information, energy, biotechnology and materials — are being revolutionized in turn.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

A Trial Definition of Materials: Towards a Definition of Materials to Assist the Understanding of Current Changes

Frontmatter

Chapter I . 1. “New” Materials versus “Old” Materials: A Groundless Controversy

Abstract
A simple and handy method of classifying materials is as follows. With reference to the theory of the life cycle of a product, it suffices in practice to employ the economic criterion of growth rate. In these terms, a “new” material (one whose growth trajectory is in a phase of acceleration) is any material whose anticipated growth rate over the next decade exceeds the average growth rate of western economies, ie about 3 %. Conversely, a material is regarded as “old” if its anticipated growth rate is below the average (cf. Figure I.1.a).
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter I . 2. From Macroscopic to Microscopic Industrial Mastery of Materials: the Characteristics of the New Materials

Abstract
The growth economy which lasted from the 50s to the 70s had as its salient feature a macroscopic industrial mastery. As well as presenting this feature, materials had economic characteristics ; a material was basically a mass-produced commodity. These technical and economic characteristics formed a coherent whole tending to restrict the variety of new materials or to relegate them to a marginal position.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter I . 3. Structural Materials and Functional Materials

Abstract
The distinction between structural materials and functional materials arises from a fundamental difference in the manner in which they are used.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Structural Materials

Chapter II.1. Introduction: Variety, Complexity, Integration. The Role of Structural Materials in the Transition to a New Information-rich Production System

Abstract
Since they demarcate the shape of industrial objects and are located exactly at the point of interaction between industry and its environment, structural materials play a major part in reorganizing production processes. In many respects, upheavals in production processes as a result of the new fabrication methods for materials foreshadow transformations of at least equal importance to those arising from the use of information technologies. Moreover, it is plain that simultaneous mastery of the evolution of structural materials and information technologies respectively is the sole means of managing effectively the transition from an old industrial order founded on standardization to a new one founded on variety.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter II.2. Intra-materials Variety : Competition and Know-how as Exemplified by Composites

Abstract
During our first involvement in the European Communities’ FAST programme, while studying the prospects for chemicals in Europe it became increasingly clear to us that the development of composite materials (CMs) was a possible avenue of diversification for chemicals producers. It revealed a new tendency vital to technological development as a whole; beyond the traditional processes of dissemination of technology and industrial learning, there are signs of a genuine revolution in the method of designing industrial objects. The variety of ordinary materials available to designers is not only being expanded by the newcomers but is even being bypassed by the new conception of customized design which accompanies them. The availability of materials “to order” offers a decisive advantage in an information intensive production set-up where the combinative aspect of product specifications is the main field of economic competition.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter II.3. “Inter-materials” Variety and the Overchoice Phenomenon

Abstract
In the last chapter, it was argued that the strategic redeployment and diffusion of activities arose from the complexity inherent in the manufacture of articles from composite materials, and so economic management and the related assimilation of knowledge were geared to mastery of the “intra-materials” aspect. The production of articles which are technical systems in themselves, for example cars and aircraft, involves another form of variety, that existing between materials. With this “inter-materials” type of variety, the problems of technical interface are attended by relentless competition in which each material tries to become dominant in as many technical applications as possible and, through the redesign of industrial objects, to attain a sufficient critical mass to oust its rival. The problem of substitution, whether reversible or irreversible, will therefore be a central issue (first section). A formulation of the “inter-materials” problem will round off the preceding chapter, after which we can raise the question of the actual coherence of the variety or overchoice problem (section two). Having dealt with the technological and competitive issues, we shall go on to discuss the various styles of management of variety (third section) as an introduction to the next two chapters.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter II.4. Transient and Permanent Variety. From Management of Uncertainty to Management of Complexity

Abstract
Having analyzed the emergence of variety (intra-material and inter-materials) in the previous chapters and discussed the various aspects of the management of both forms, the time has come to analyze the choice available to firms by distinguishing the transient from the permanent. Facets of emergent variety genuinely constituting the basis of a new technological system should be distinguished from those which merely represent a cyclical adaptation. Any period of change is characterized by a search for wide variety; in a sense this is a technological projection of a general behaviour pattern in response to uncertainty which entails the diversification of portfolios and in financing circles, is termed a “preference for liquidity”. We shall firstly isolate this cyclical trend for specific analysis and in a subsequent section go on to deal with the variety phenomenon as a new structural factor. Before doing so, however, let us look briefly at the peculiarities of each of these two adaptations.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter II.5. Reducing of Complexity through Integration

Abstract
The preceding analyses have established that the development of firms and their strategies must be interpreted essentially in terms of information. The crucial issue for a firm under a variety-based system becomes the mastery or even reduction of complexity, not only in its market relations but also in its own internal skills and production network.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Structural Materials: The Main Areas of Application

Frontmatter

Chapter III.1. New Materials and Transport

Abstract
The transport sector has been one of the aeras of activity most severely affected by the economic crisis. The substantial rise in the cost of energy following the two oil shocks of 1974 and 1979 greatly affected the cost of using transport and, albeilt to a lesser extent, production costs in the transport industry. The general conditions governing activities in this sector, especially where competition and demand are concerned, have also undergone profound change. The recent favourable trend of oil prices does not obviate the need to adapt to the new economic conditions. In more than one respect the transport industry has managed to respond appropriately to the challenges which have faced it since the crisis began. A two-stage analysis of these responses underlines the preponderant role played by new materials.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter III.2. New Materials and Packaging

Abstract
The packaging sector occupies a pivotal position in the economy. Lying at the crossroads of production and consumption, packaging materials have to incorporate not only technical developments in products and processes, development constraints in the distribution and transport sectors and changes in consumer tastes, but also environmental constraints and the need to provide a vehicle for information about the nature and quality of products. Consequently, packaging is one of the most significant symbols of changes in production methods and lifestyles, and it is for this reason that the profound transformations now affecting production processes and consumer habits are bound to up-end structures and strategies in this sector. The principal feature of this upheaval is once again the phenomenon of growing variety in the production and utilization of packaging materials.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter III.3. New Materials in Building and Public Works

Abstract
There are two ways of apprehending the building and public works sector:
  • The first is to consider that it undeniably remains a traditional sector. There are many grounds for this attitude, including dispension of firms, occupational compartmentation and diversity of products and application contexts. This does not mean that the sector is non-innovative, but it does appear to borrow most of its innovations from other sectors since the stimulus to innovate stems from demand rather than from any internal dynamism. Consequently, the changes induced by innovations often seem slow and uneventful, particularly as regards innovations concerning new materials. The introduction of new materials is apparently not governed by any specific mechanism and therefore cannot be analyzed as an established set of problems, in contrast to the situation in the transport sector. The upsurge of new materials in building and public works thus reflects the acceleration or intensification of developments specific to the sector and unrelated to these materials.
  • The second is paradoxically to regard it as a modern sector, in view of the materials which it applies and its production structures. True enough, the concept of building in itself typifies the idea of a composite object incorporating extremely varied materials from time immemorial; the sector is a decisive proving ground for materials or methods incorporating advanced materials; the structure of the many different firms involved illustrates more vividly than any other the concept of a flexible network of highly decentralized firms; the sector constantly and characteristically endeavours to achieve adaptation of skills and compatibility between the various trades; lastly, it is a field in which quality control and codification of operative capacity have always been valued.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Functional Materials

Frontmatter

Chapter IV.1. Functional Materials and Information

Abstract
Exploiting the semiconductor properties of a particular material - single crystal silicon - lies at the heart of developments in the electronics and computer industry. This industry has a turnover of some thousand milliard francs at the end of the 1980s, a figure expected to increase five-fold by the end of the century. Through the scale of its induced technological developments, the size of the markets involved and the considerable social implications, no material better illustrates the strategic role of a functional material than silicon.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter IV.2. Materials and Energy

Abstract
Discussions in the course of the inquiries which led to the writing of this book revealed a broad consensus in the scientific and industrial worlds alike. Prior to December 1986 everyone interested in the development of superconducting materials agreed that the upper temperature limit for the phenomenon of superconduction (electrical conduction free from resistance, free of losses and thus without heat generation) was set by theory in the vicinity of 25° Kelvin (ie -248°C). So the applications envisaged or already in existence for these superconducting materials (mainly metal alloys such as niobium-titanium) were restricted to small, highly specific areas such as high-field electromagnets (with high-resolution RMN as the principal application), ultra-compact computers for very fast calculation (a few prototypes) and high-sensitivity magnetic detectors. It was essential for all these devices to function in a liquid helium bath, and therefore economically impossible to apply these superconductors on a larger scale.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter IV.3. Biomaterials and Biotechnology

Abstract
The use of materials for technologies applied to living organisms has in the past been empirical in the highest degree. To find replacements able to perform the functions of defective tissues or organs in the human body, recourse was had to the broad categories of available materials (wood, metals, etc) which were sometimes unable properly to meet the required specifications, either because the implant-tissue interface gave rise to poorly controlled chemical and electrical processes, or — most important — because the requirement of biocompatibilitv was not satisfied.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

STRATEGIES Elements in an Industrial Policy and a Policy for Employment and Skills

Frontmatter

Chapter V.1. Description of Two Development Scenarios for Materials

Abstract
In accordance with this scenario, the industrial system as a whole becomes capable of functioning in a permanent system based on variety. It presupposes that there has been a final break with the previous regime, based on the standardization of products and that the industrial system finally succeeds in managing efficiently a form of production of goods and services that is being diversified all the time, with the aid of a range of technical solutions that is constantly being renewed with a continuity expanding spectrum of possibilities.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter V.2. Industrial Strategies in Materials : European Situation

Abstract
The situation of European industry in the field of materials can be very roughly summarized as follows :
  • Europe occupies a position which is entirely competitive with the rest of the world in the conception, production and application of structural materials. This favourable position is based to a large extent on the might of the European chemical industry (notably on the three German groups Bayer, Hoechst and BASF and the other major European firms - see Table V.2.A - but also on an overall European “chemical culture” of high quality), which confirms its considerable strategic role for Europe.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter V.3. Role of the Authorities in Europe in the Field of Materials

Abstract
The arguments developed so far converge towards a general recommendation which is mandatory for the European authorities : means must be found, whatever the price, to enable Europe to catch up in the field of functional materials and to maintain its advance in the design, production and application of structural materials.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Chapter V.4. Materials, Employment and Skills

Abstract
A statistical study of the way the number of jobs is evolving in Europe in the field of materials is not really conceivable, for a multitude of reasons suggested below. On the other hand, and because materials determine a considerable proportion of the organization of industrial work, a thorough analysis of the evolution of skills in the field of materials, in the light of work carried out to date may be extremely fruitful. Thanks to a new “visual angle”, it affords an opportunity to comprehend better the pattern of skills and the mechanisms whereby jobs are destroyed and created, and so to pinpoint the blocks and difficulties in changing over to a new mode of industrial organization. In the background of the activities reported on in earlier parts of this work, the importance of knowledge and know-how have become manifestly apparent. The following analysis confirms that skills are indeed the key to the possible transition to a new production system.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch

Conclusion

Conclusion

Abstract
The first, and the principal, conclusion of this survey is as follows : the development of materials is going to have an impact on society that is at least as great as that of the information technologies. This entails major consequences for the strategy of firms and of the authorities, too inclined in the past to think solely in terms of the computer revolution. All the lines of argument developed in this report in fact confirm that the reconception of products and processes, that the satisfaction of quality and reliability requirements, that energy savings, the creation of new industrial articles or new services, and the decentralization of human activities in space, are just as dependent on the mastery of materials as on that of information technologies.
Patrick Cohendet, Marc J. Ledoux, Ehud Zuscovitch
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