Advanced materials and manufacturing research capabilities

Wayne State University offers exceptional strength in a number of key advanced manufacturing areas with faculty from a number of departments such as Mechanical Engineering (ME), Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (ChemE), Engineering Technology (ET) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Departments. Many of the following areas are multidisciplinary with collaboration of faculty among various departments. Wayne State University is a partner in the Obama administration initiated national manufacturing institute, LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow). See: lift.technology. We are also a key member of Advance Michigan, an IMCP (Investment in Manufacturing Communities Partnership) program. Advance Michigan is one of 12 such communities designated by the Federal Government.

At Wayne State, we have faculty members who are experts in some of the important advanced manufacturing technologies, for example,

  1. Nano-micro manufacturing (biomedical and energy devices)
  2. Advanced materials thermal-mechanical processing (including additive manufacturing)
  3. Automation in manufacturing
  4. Lightweight materials (composites and mixed materials) manufacturing
  5. Design for sustainable manufacturing

Digital and quality control aspects including NDE are embedded in all of the above areas. Real-time monitoring and application of statistical controls are also strongly emphasized. In many instances, Wayne State faculty takes a systems approach to solve manufacturing problems. These areas of excellence are described in more detail as follows.

Advanced materials and manufacturing - Areas of excellence

1.Nano-micro manufacturing: Biological devices for sensing can be made at a very small scale to aid in healthcare products. Wayne State has excellent clean room facilities and necessary laboratory equipment to make a wide variety of nano and microscale materials and their packaging to produce devices.

  Fig. 1- Concept for a MEMS device.

2. Thermal and mechanical processing (additive manufacturing- a thermal process): Wayne State has excellent capabilities in hot gas thermoforming, casting, and materials characterization. Local scale joiing can be made for dissimilar materials like aluminum and steel using additive materials technology. Laser-based materials processing can be accomplished to produce manufactured parts with precision.

Fig. 2- A wide variety of single and muli material components have been fabricated by laser additive manufacturing at WSU.

3. Automation in manufacturing: Automation is key to manufacturing robustness, cost and throughput. Wayne State has active research in robotics for manufacturing applications.

Fig. 3 - Engagement of robotics in an automotive assembly line.

4. Lightweight Materials(Composite) Manufacturing: Automotive lightweighting is a norm to meet fuel efficiency dictated by CAFE standards. Composite manufacturing and hybrid mixed material systems are key needs. Wayne State utilizes a vacuum thermal press with molding pressure to develop lightweight composite systems and lightweight mixed materials - one of our key strengths.

Fig. 4 - Bond strength evaluation between aluminum and betabrace composite - a mixed material, processed by thermal consolidation.

5. Design for sustainability: Design for sustainability requires a holistic view of our environment and how to manage manufacturing and products without degrading our environment. Wayne State has a strong group in this area.

Fig. 5 - Elements of design for sustainability.