Bring Flexibility and Innovation to Manufacturing Processes

Abstract: I view manufacturing as an integration platform that translates ideas and resources into products used by societies. Current research efforts at our manufacturing group are rooted in advancing new flexible manufacturing processes using the combination of the mechanics-driven and data-driven approaches. In this talk, I will post the manufacturing challenges that we are facing and use two flexible processes, i.e., metal powder-based additive manufacturing and rapid dieless forming for producing three-dimensional parts without geometry-specific tooling, as demonstration cases. Specifically, I will show how the integration of the fundamental process mechanics, process control, and techniques including machine learning to achieve effective and efficient predictions of material’s mechanical behavior due to or during a manufacturing process. Our solutions particularly target three notoriously challenging aspects of the process, i.e., long history-dependent properties, complex geometric features, and the high dimensionality of their design space. Finally, I will state the research needs towards paving the foundation for better connecting designers and manufacturers.

Cardiss Collins Professor Jian Cao (MIT95, MIT92, SJTU89) specialized in innovative manufacturing processes and systems, particularly in the areas of deformation-based processes and laser additive manufacturing processes. She is the Founding Director of the university research center on Manufacturing Science and Innovation at Northwestern, known as NIMSI. Cao served as an Associate Vice President for Research at Northwestern from 2012 to 2021. She has co-authored over 230 journal articles, nearly 20 patents, and several op-ed articles. Cao has been the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Materials Processing Technology since 2018. Prof. Cao is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ASME, the International Academy for Production Engineering and SME. Her major awards include DoD Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, ASME Milton C. Shaw Manufacturing Research Medal, Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from ASME and Pi Tau Sigma, SME Gold Medal, SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal, ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award (twice), and NSF CAREER Award. She served as President of the SME North America Manufacturing Research Institute, Chair of ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division, and Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Prof. Cao now serves on the National Materials and Manufacturing Board of the National Academies, Board of Directors of SME, and Board of Directors accelerator for hardtech innovation and manufacturing in Chicago.