We are committed to research addressing 21st-century manufacturing, including research in novel additive manufacturing processes, biomedical materials and manufacturing, and optimizing design for sustainability and re-manufacture/reuse.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a new type of manufacturing process that can directly fabricate a physical object from a Computer-aided Design (CAD) model. It has been widely recognized as a disruptive manufacturing technology for a wide variety of applications such as aerospace, defense, biomedical and consumer products to name a few. With the advance of material, process and machine development, AM has been hailed as the Third Industrial Revolution. Despite significant progress in the AM field, a number of technical challenges such as poor surface quality, low precision, high cost, and weak material property still remain. To fill this research gap and accelerate the pace of new industrial revolution, the projects focus on developing novel AM processes that can fundamentally improve its overall performance. The research outcome will advance the understanding and knowledge of AM and to promote its wide application in future engineering systems.
AM potentially enables revolutionary new designs by incorporating complex three-dimensional shapes, heterogeneous material properties and multi-functionality. Such potentials, if fully realized, would fundamentally change the design and fabrication of future engineering systems. The interdisciplinary research work leverages modeling, optimization, simulation tools for advanced design and engineering analysis enabled by AM. Innovative design structures such as light weight structure and functional gradient structure will be modeled and analyzed based on physical mechanics such as solid mechanics, fracture mechanics and fluid mechanics. Smart material such as conductive material, self-sensing material, piezoelectric materials, nano materials will be incorporated to the additive manufactured matrix in order to achieve material properties and multi-functionality.
Biomedical engineering is another interdisciplinary field that applies the principles and technologies of engineering and life science to develop biological substitutes including tissues and organs. This research work applies advanced additive manufacturing technologies to different area of biomedical engineering. In some applications, advanced 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies are used for in-situ wound healing, where a novel treatment that would repair wounds in situ by using cartridge-based bio-printing to precisely deliver skin cells in a controlled manner. Other applications involve the application of novel AM techniques in tissue engineering and regeneration, where one-step scaffold is fabricated with live cell incorporation based on newly developed visible light sensitive biomaterial and the corresponding visible light based AM process. The developed system should be applicable as an efficient and effective tissue engineering technology for tissue repair in the clinic.
Research projects are focused on improving manufacturing strategies to reduce the environmental impact, as well as the economic performance of manufacturing operations. The research in sustainable manufacturing is based on a fundamental rethinking of the structure and the business framework in manufacturing systems. Decision Analysis methods and alternative selection techniques have been developed to promote the concept of sustainability in which the best solutions are not just some kind of tradeoff between three pillars of sustainability (economic, environment and social), but an integrated approach that satisfies all three levels.
The efficient management of end-of-life products, especially electronic products, has been the focus of several research projects. Disassembly sequence planning, determining the best recovery option (re-use, recycle, refurbishment, remanufacture, disposal, etc) for used products, upgrade planning, product take-back system design (closed-loop supply chain network design), and investigation of the impact of product obsolescence on end-of-life recovery profitability are among the previous and ongoing projects in this area. Remanufacturing and product recovery attracts significant attention due to environmental concerns, legislative requirements, consumer interests in green products and market image of manufacturers. Simulation and Optimization methods have been employed to model and investigate the complexity of products recovery systems and gain a better understanding of economic and environmental challenges facing these systems.
Research projects in this area cover a variety of topics including: 1) expanding design theory and methodologies, 2) consumer preference modeling 3) market demand estimation of a given design alternative, 4) lifecycle impact of energy efficient and green design features, 5) design for several life cycles, 6) design for product end-of-use recovery, and 7) the role of heuristics and cognitive errors in design-related decision making. Optimization models, predictive modeling techniques, data analytic and simulation methods are common tools used in this area.