With its rich history and strengths in manufacturing and materials, WPI continues to play a pivotal role in a new advanced manufacturing revolution that is moving far beyond stainless steels and nickel-based alloys. New ideas, talent, technologies, and expertise in areas like nanomaterials, energy, and synthetic biology are required to help build a stronger, more sustainable, and globally competitive manufacturing sector.
Three main research areas identified so far:
Leveraging well-established industry partnerships and faculty expertise, professors Danielle Cote, Nancy Burham, and Natalie Farny lead an interdisciplinary group of researchers from materials science, physics, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, robotics engineering, data science, and other disciplines to advance these efforts, solve industry-relevant advanced manufacturing challenges, and better connect the industries of today and tomorrow.
Subgroups within Materials & Advanced Manufacturing:
Studies of the interaction between the virus and potential targeted medicines, nanostructures, suspended particles and surfaces with known coatings and surface roughness (Wole Sobeyejo, Jianyu Liang, Susan Zhou)
Integrated efforts in the design and manufacturing of COVID-19 masks, respirators, and hospital infrastructure—plus supply chain considerations for the development of sustainable manufacturing efforts (Joe Sarkis, Donna Levin, Ellen Piccioli)
Utilization of nanostructured metallic copper powder as feedstock for solid state additive manufacturing to produce antimicrobial coatings, in hopes of reducing viability of COVID-19 on high-touch surfaces. (Danielle Cote, Terri Camesano)
WPI researchers are going to make designs of multiple devices and their components publicly available so anyone with a 3D printer and a background in electronics and mechanical engineering could use them to produce ventilators for their local hospitals. A manufacturing company also could use the designs to produce ventilators quickly and to scale.
A professor—in collaboration with national laboratories and a global auto parts supplier—is testing a new type of welding that may make the joint between light metal alloys more resistant to corrosion—including salt spray—leading to future designs of durable, next-generation metal car joints used in ultra-light car doors and other vehicle body applications.
WPI is already home to the Metal Processing Institute (MPI), the largest industry-university alliance in North America. MPI conducts research in four research centers in the areas of metal casting (at the Advanced Casting Research Center), heat treating (at the Center for Heat Treating Excellence), resource recovery and recycling (at the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling), and materials processing data (at the Center for Materials Processing Data).
More information about how to connect with the Materials & Manufacturing Interdisciplinary Group can be accessed by reaching out to one of the core faculty members of this group.