Advanced Manufacturing Is On the Move

With exciting innovations in tools, materials, and management systems, advanced manufacturing is impacting industries as diverse as aerospace and defense, energy, motor vehicles, and medicine.

At the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rutgers School of Engineering, teaching and research in the areas of production and manufacturing prepare students to determine the most effective way to use people, machines, materials, information, and energy to develop a product.

Rutgers’ Tugrul Ozel, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, is exploring a broad scope of advanced manufacturing projects that include precision machining, biomedical manufacturing, and laser processing of advanced materials at the Manufacturing and Automation Research Laboratory (MARL).

As part of his scope of work, he is leading a research group of graduate and undergraduate students, and visiting scholars  in modeling and optimizing manufacturing processes of titanium and nickel-based alloyed parts to achieve high-precision, optimum surface integrity, and pro-longed product life for aerospace and biomedical applications.

According to Ozel, these alloys offer superior properties for producing advanced engineered products and are a highly desirable material for jet engines, gas turbine engines, and nuclear reactors due to their superior properties in maintaining strength at extremely high temperatures and pressures.

“Titanium alloys offer favorable strength-to-mass ratios making them highly suitable for lightweight aerospace structural components, various parts of the engine, and the landing gear,” he says. “They are also biocompatible and corrosion resistant, making them also suitable for fabricating biomedical metallic implants and chemical reaction vessels.”

However, their drawback, Ozel says, is that they are difficult to process with desired surface quality and structural integrity.

With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, Ozel’s research group as developed various process simulations for precision finish machining of advanced metal alloys. Additive manufacturing of nickel-based alloyed parts using laser powder bed fusion process, more commonly known as metal 3D printing or selective laser melting, is being tested using thermal camera videos.

“We are developing advanced computational simulations to predict in-situ process temperatures, microstructural changes, residual stresses, and other important attributes to test performance in a virtual manufacturing setting prior to manufacture the actual parts with funding from Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology,” says Ozel.

The group is also developing technically sound methodologies to expand the advantages offered by metal 3D printing to graphene nanomaterials enforced metal matrix composites and other metal-ceramic composites for lightweight metal alloys requiring higher strength in industrial applications.

“Metal additive manufacturing is the most industrially relevant development of 3D printing technology, because it enables direct digital fabrication and manufacturing of almost any design--small or large, basic or complex geometries--without requiring any tooling, fixturing, and expensive multi-axis machine tools, and most importantly expensive manual labor,” explains Ozel.

It is estimated, he says, that metal and metal matrix composite additive manufacturing will create advanced manufacturing jobs and direct digital manufacturing capabilities elevating the manufacturing base of the United States to higher levels and contribute significantly to the gross national production gains in the twenty-first century.

Other areas of manufacturing being studied by Ozel’s group include laser processing, micromanufacturing, and biomedical manufacturing. The team has developed techniques for ultraviolet nanosecond pulsed laser processing of polymers for microfluidics applications and lab-on-chip devices. With the funding from National Science Foundation, the team has also developed pulsed laser exfoliation techniques for separation of thin single crystal silicon carbide layers for semiconductor manufacturing. Other results include designing, prototyping, and developing low-cost microneedle array patches for timely drug delivery. Microneedles are composed of an array of micro-scale needle tips filled with single dose of drugs typically as hydrogels that can be slowly released when microneedle tips penetrate into the skin.

“If they can be produced in mass quantities at a low production cost and safely disposed, they may find wide ranging applications in fighting epidemic diseases with little or no health care professional assistance due to being easily deliverable and self-admissible,” he says.