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Manufacturing Process, Material Handling, and Automation

Iowa State University
The University of Iowa
University of Northern Iowa

Iowa State University

Areas of Expertise

  • Advanced manufacturing processes and advanced production system analysis, including cuttingedge technologies that enabled effective and practical advancements in metal casting, welding, and machining
  • Automating processes for rapid prototyping/rapid machining, welding technologies, and a pattern building process for the metal casting industry
  • Metrology, measurement error analysis, controls and process monitoring
  • Production scheduling and optimization, supply chains (open and closed loop) economic decision analysis and occupational safety and ergonomics
  • Industrial energy efficiency, sustainable engineering practices and electricity market analysis
  • Visual inspection processes through the use of statistical and software tools
  • Design for manufacture and assembly; Lean Sigma/Six Sigma design methodologies

Special Facilities

  • Wind Energy Manufacturing Laboratory. Manufacturing plays a critical role in making wind energy a viable source of energy for the nation's future energy portfolio. Major advancements in wind turbine manufacturing are needed to reduce the weight of components, increase throughput, and reduce costs to a level that makes wind energy more competitive with other energy sources. Specific study areas include process control of large scale composite manufacturing, blade assembly, intelligent automation, real-time NDE methods, and integrated design and manufacturing solutions to address composite manufacturing phenomena.

The University of Iowa

Areas of Expertise

  • Metal casting and solidification
  • Meshfree methods for structural analysis and design sensitivity analysis
  • Composite materials
  • Reliability-based design optimization
  • Virtual humans in manufacturing
  • Multidisciplinary design optimization
  • Mechanisms and robotics

Special Facilities

  • The Solidification Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering conducts research into fundamental aspects of solidification and their application in casting of metals. The laboratory is supported by federal agencies and industry. The research ranges from basic experimental and computational studies of microstructure evolution to modeling and simulation of a wide variety of industrial metal casting processes. The emphasis in the research is on micro- and macro-scale transport phenomena during solidification, particularly in the presence of melt flow. Collaboration with the casting industry has resulted in custom-made software for process control, new capabilities in commercially available casting simulation software, and strategies for yield improvement and defect prevention. Facilities include numerous state-of-the-art computer workstations and experimental test setups.

Centers of Excellence

  • The Reliability and Sensory Prognostic Systems group at the Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD) investigates and develops new reliability-based design optimization (RBDO) methods and software systems that enable the determination of optimum designs that incorporate confidence ranges for mechanical component/system and electronic assembly. Specific research thrusts include the development of uncertainty modeling, reliability sensitivity analysis, and generalized RBDO methods.
    To address the sensitivity of some manufacturing processes, for example, metal stamping and forming, and fatigue life estimation techniques to material property uncertainty, empirical fatigue modeling, external load variability, and dynamic stresses and strains, the Center has adopted an exacting approach to achieve robust RBDO methods and applications. The methodologies developed at CCAD are, however, applicable to general RBDO problems, as a result of an adaptive probabilistic
    constraint evaluation strategy employed in RBDO research efforts. By integrating system probability analysis with the unified system space in the design optimization process, a design potential method (DPM) has been developed for highly effective probabilistic constraint approximation. The use of the DPM method significantly improves the RBDO convergence rate since it applies important design information obtained during reliability analysis for probabilistic constraint evaluation.

University of Northern Iowa

Areas of Expertise

  • Metal casting technology
  • Foundry processes, heat treatment, quality assurance
  • Solidification modeling, aluminum and cast iron technology
  • Manufacturing processes, design and control

Special Facilities

  • The Industrial Technology Department offers well-equipped manufacturing facilities and lab space, as well as cutting-edge software tools, including: CAD packages for 3D solid modeling, static and dynamic analyses, simulation and automated manufacturing CNC/CAM

Centers of Excellence

  • Metal Casting Center (MCC) is a nationally recognized leader in foundry research, applied technology, and technical business assistance. In addition, MCC faculty and staff offer training and support in casting design and locating local casting suppliers. The wind energy industry will require a variety of iron and steel castings for structural and mechanical components. The center has the resources to assist in the qualifying of possible suppliers, sourcing of the cast components, and aiding in the solution of manufacturing problems. Recent research into advanced steel casting design and manufacture for the US Department of Defense has developed technology that could be utilized to shorten lead times and improve quality and manufacturability of cast components. High quality, low cost alternatives to welded fabrications can also be investigated.