EAGER/Collaborative Research/Cybermanufacturing: Just Make It: Integrating Cybermanufacturing into Design Studios to Enable Innovation

Project: Research project

Project Details


Additive manufacturing, in which physical products are fabricated in a layer-by-layer fashion, is creating renewed interest in manufacturing. Additive manufacturing offers numerous advantages over traditional manufacturing processes, such as machining, casting, and forging, but it is not always the most cost effective method for fabricating parts. In many cases, subtractive manufacturing techniques (i.e., fabrication processes like machining that remove material to create a finished part) are more cost-effective, but they require additional expertise and set-up compared to the 'push button' technology available on many additive manufacturing systems. In order to further improve accessibility to all digital fabrication technologies, and to better inform 'makers' of the manufacturability of their designs, the team of this EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) project will create a set of design tools and software applications that provide rapid manufacturing feedback in terms of geometry, material, quality, lead time, and cost to fabricate a component. The cybermanufacturing system will be integrated into undergraduate mechanical engineering design studios at three partner institutions (Georgia Tech, Penn State University, and Virginia Tech) and will be formally assessed in order to answer the research question, 'How does this cybermanufacturing system and resulting design assessment capability enable innovation?' This work will lay the foundation for future, larger-scale cybermanufacturing efforts that will connect engineering students and the broader maker community with a larger array of manufacturing capabilities and know-how, making them better prepared for the engineering and entrepreneurial workforce of tomorrow.

The project's cloud-based cybermanufacturing system will be comprised of applications (apps) for additive and subtractive manufacturing that will provide an integrated view of the semantic information needed to assess manufacturability of part designs. The cybermanufacturing system leverages state-of-the-art advances in tool path planning for multi-axis machine tools based on novel voxel-based flexible data representations for product geometry, which will further the flexibility and accessibility of subtractive manufacturing. The resulting system will be deployed in the partner institutions' vibrant, yet distinct, design studio environments that offer hands-on design/build experiences to several hundred undergraduate engineering students each year. The impact of the system on the design process will be measured directly using novel assessment instruments designed to probe salient aspects of innovation in product design and their impact on the students engaged. This project's approach will inform requirements for mapping more expansive networks and manufacturing capabilities in future cybermanufacturing service systems.

Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $119,650.00


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