To answer questions such as these Rowan developed the Technology Assessment Matrix (TAM) under JSF funding as a way of quantifying the otherwise highly subjective business of evaluating the status of a technology. The technology is analyzed to identify all critical steps that are needed for production. The detailed knowledge and requirements for each step are then placed on the line from laboratory to factory, using objective criteria to measure the status. The graphical output of the method shows immediately how advanced the technology is in general, and, often more importantly, what critical pieces of information or approvals are missing. The method can be extended to determine the probable time, cost, and risk of bringing it to production.
For example, the figure shows the TAM output for small (<3”) internal diameter plasma spray coating. The graph immediately shows that coating materials and equipment are commercially available, and the coating materials are well-defined. However, production methods are still in early stage development, and properties and performance have been initially demonstrated in the laboratory, but have not yet been brought to the proof-of-principle stage. This immediately shows that bringing the technology to production will require concentration on processing methods, and then on measurement of properties and performance. Equipment development is not a critical issue.