Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (AMM)

AMM discoveries, from nanomaterials to heat-resistant materials on spacecraft, will run the gamut of all things manufactured, small to large.

The AMM signature area brings a materials perspective to manufacturing research. “With the large, comprehensive engineering program at Purdue, we are unique in joining the study of advanced materials to the manufacturing process itself,” says Alex King, of materials engineering. “Often labs can easily develop advanced materials, such as in high-temperature superconductivity, but without the material being manufactured into any useful form.”

Laser-based Micromachining: Laser micro-machining processes precise, small, and clean parts below the micrometer scale. Working under the direction of Xianfan Xu, professor of mechanical engineering, graduate students Ihtesham Chowdhury (left) and Qi-hong Wu set up an experiment for femtosecond laser micromachining

For example, because of their extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and wear resistance, nanostructured materials can be important strengthening constituents in monolithic solids and composites for automotive, aerospace, and even steel wire and concrete applications. However, traditional methods for manufacturing these materials cost more than $100 per pound and are limited in the kinds of material produced.

Purdue professors of industrial engineering, Dale Compton and Srinivasan Chandrasekar, collaborating with colleagues in materials engineering, have demonstrated that nanomaterials can be made in a wide variety of metals and alloys from machine shop chips. The cost: about $1 a pound over the cost of the incoming material.

Clustering opens exciting, new areas of study and promotes further collaboration where Purdue researchers are already making rapid advances.

The cross-disciplinary Intelligent Manufacturing Systems applies intelligent control to optimize and control complex manufacturing processes. A hybrid technique combines conventional control, information technology, and emerging areas of soft computing to solve complex problems such as grinding, where multiple issues such as roughness, power, wear of wheel, and temperature must be addressed.

In Sustainable Manufacturing Systems, researchers improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process, reducing effluents and energy consumption. Three thrust areas include nanomaterials, reducing friction in machining while improving efficiency through application of controlled vibrations, and improving efficiency of processes through better sensing and control of manufacturing machines and processes.

In Purdue’s Center for Laser-Based Micro-Fabrication and Center for Laser-Based Manufacturing, laser processing research develops fabrication and materials processing techniques for parts that would be impossible, or prohibitively expensive, to produce by other techniques, while fabricating parts faster, cheaper, and with higher-quality. Laser micromachining processes enable precise, small, and clean parts below the micrometer scale. Mechanical engineering researchers develop nanooptical antennas to concentrate light to the subwavelength size for direct machining.

Powder Studies: Huiwen Xu, a materials engineering PhD student, is measuring the surface area of a hydrothermally derived ceramic powder. The results of her research will enable powders to be manufactured at lower temperatures

Other research continues on the structure and properties of materials in thin films. Novel material structures will have designed-in conducting properties related to a polycrystalline structure characterized through x-rays in a unique application of an area detector diffractometer. The results of Purdue’s thin film research will remove several steps from the manufacturing process of computer chips.

Purdue’s high-speed machining research already uses predictive modeling for forces such as vibration and chatter. Implementing these modeling simulation tools, manufacturers can significantly affect process design at the product design stages. Next, research will provide a virtual manufacturing environment for simulating process design and reducing the process design lead time.