The National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC) under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Ministry of Science and Technology, has been assigned by the government as the core agency in coordinating and drafting the National Strategic Plan for Materials Technology (2007-2016). This plan is to be the guideline for the national economic and social development towards scientific and technology knowledge-based society and for economy and the country’s materials technology development. This plan is similar to the strategic master plans in the three other technological fields :
- Information and Communication Technology
- Biotechnology and
MTEC has set the main operating direction under the strategic plan, of which the country’s vision has been established as “Materials technology will support the value-added and strengthen the nation’s economy, society, and security”. There are 5 major strategies as follows :
Strategy 1 Materials Technology to develop automobile, electrical appliances and electronics, machinery, and parts industries.
Strategy 2 Materials Technology to develop agricultural and food industries.
Strategy 3 Materials Technology to develop the cluster of fashion industries.
Strategy 4 Materials Technology to develop the medical and health sector.
Strategy 5 Materials Technology to develop alternative energy.
Framework of the 4th NSTDA Strategic Plan (2006-2010)
under the 4th NSTDA Strategic Planto push forward and increase the potential of the country’s science and technology in response to the economic and social situation and need of the country, MTEC adjusted its operational strategy towards a program-based and integrative operation among the existing national centers under NSTDA, so as to be in line with the development of the major clusters.
Food and agro industry
To promote the country’s food and agricultural industry to be able to compete in the global market, MTEC has aimed at the research and development into packaging, equipment and machinery technology for agriculture as well as the research and development on rubber or natural rubber as follows;
- Packaging and plastic for agriculture : Research and development on materials/ packaging in order to extend the quality of freshness of the agricultural product after the harvest, during the delivery and distribution period. The research and development also covers processed food and safety for consumers, in particular products to maintain the quality during plantation and packaging that is biodegradable. For example, ethylene-absorbing film for fresh produce packaging, transport and tropical product distribution system and simulation, oxygen barrier packaging for milled rice, acid indicator for fermented food consumption, extruded starch-based foams and wrapping biodegradable plastic film for mango.
- Agricultural equipment and machinery : Research and development on equipment and machinery to enhance plantation, harvesting, and processing, as well as analytical tool/methodology to maintain/enhance post-harvesting quality. Fundamental linkages between physical and chemical characterization are investigated to understand phenomena like ripening of durian and mango, and browning in pineapple. Examples of application output include sesame oil extracting machine using cold press process for community used , husk-cracking and processing machine of sunflower oil.
- Rubber industry : MTEC has placed emphasis on technological innovations to enhance productivity, quality and standard of Thai natural rubber as well as the specialty grades, for value-added rubber product as nation sustainable economic crops. Outputs include twin-screw extruder machine for continuous drying of natural rubber, as well as various rubber technologies for non-ammonia natural rubber latex, skim-removing chemical, heat/ozone resistance natural rubber, pilot plant for electron-induced vulcanization process for latex
Medical and public health industry
To improve the quality of life among Thai people who have been traumatized in accident or suffer from disability or other health problems, MTEC focuses on the research and development of high demand medical materials and equipment for domestic use, e.g. repair and substitute materials for bone and dental application, materials to cure injuries and skin substitution, materials and equipment for post treatment of bone and injuries, equipment for joint rehabilitation, forming of net shape implantation materials to cure in skull and face problems using rapid prototyping technology. At the sometime, skilled personnel in this field will be developed throughout various research projects.
Automotive and transportation industry
Aiming at capability development of the domestic automobile industry, MTEC emphasizes technological development in design, manufacturing, energy conservation, coupled with the application of new light weight / high strength materials, e.g., the prototype for Dual Fuel NGV for bus, NGV system, frame and automobile equipment made from composite materials for weight reduction and fuel economy, water repellant mirror, side-door and back view mirror. On the other hand, capability building in the application of advanced design and manufacturing technology using computer programming or finite element, plastic engineering technology, reverse engineering and rapid prototyping, advanced metal and materials technology are nurtured under clustering development through the collaboration among the private sector, academia, and alliances
Software, microchips and electronics Industry
MTEC has supported research and development on electro-discharged materials for electronic packaging and electro-discharging behavior from plastic injection. Together with financial analysis, all supporting results will be used to develop compound formulae for plastic injection of electro-discharged packaging in the hard disk drive industry, a heavily invested industry in Thailand.
Energy and environmental industry
With the current energy crisis in Thailand and around the world, MTEC, together with the alternative energy, energy technology management and environment research groups in NSTDA, has aimed to solve the following problems in energy and environment.
- Energy: MTEC emphasizes the research and development on domestic production technology and appropriate energy usage to reduce fossil fuel imports and increase self reliance in the short and long terms for the country. Targeted technologies are two-fold. Firstly, advanced energy technology includes fuel cell and hydrogen energy technology. Secondly, renewable energy technology (especially Bioenergy) including biogas, biodiesel, bio-alcohol, Biomass to Liquid (BTL) and Biomass to CHP. Significant considerations are technologies suitable to domestically available biomass feedstock and domestic infrastructure of the private sectors.
- Environment: NSTDA energy and environment research team emphasizes research and development on bio-based materials, clean technology, life cycle assessment, EcoDesign, pollution prevention and abatement, recycle technology and residential/industrial waste management, in order to help solve problems in waste abundance, global warming, ozone deterioration and fossil fuel depletion. Due to the proliferation of the international directives originated from EU, i.e., WEEE and RoHS, with which the Thai manufacturers of electrical and electronics appliances now must be compliant, MTEC has collaborated with the Thailand Electrical and Electronics Institute (TEI) in setting up the network for technology development. The know-how to produce the products that can meet the international directives is disseminated to the industry. Trace Element Analysis (TEA) laboratories are established to provide services to the industry, as well as an InformationCenter for compiling the data from study and research for substitution materials.
Textile and chemical industry
Since Thai textile products have to be competitive in the high quality markets, MTEC is directing the effort of research and development for functional textiles to increase value creation for technology transfer to the private sector and to expand the market opportunity. Examples are odor repellant textile for automobile and other industries, non-woven clothes, which deflect ultraviolet and infrared for agricultural application. Environmental friendly materials corresponding to the standards and regulations of EU are also being developed to preserve and expand of Thai textile world markets.
Community Society and Disability
MTEC intends to transfer the knowledge and capability to apply materials technology with the handicraft products in order to create synergy in community networks and technology integration. There are the project to develop domestic ceramics products for the world market by sending experts to consult and develop the manufacturing processes, the promotion of research and development of materials technology to create more value of domestic\ handicraft, etc.
Materials technology based industries
MTEC aims to develop the knowledge and basic science and technology for applied research and development in the manufacturing industry via two approaches: simulation and design/production. Targeted groups include automotive and parts industry, mold and die industry, metal casting technology, plastic injection industry and medical device industry, which revolve around thermal and mechanical forming principals. The key factor for enhanced competitiveness of Thai industries in the world market is improved efficiency in production technology with quality in accordance with standards and market demand at present and in the future. In addition, innovation for new products or materials with improved properties has been identified to support relevant industries in Thailand.