Sustainable Manufacturing and Design

Sustainable manufacturing and design research efforts focus on sustainability issues related to product design and polymers.

Product Design

Departmental research in sustainable product design investigates life-cycle design with regard to the environment, with the goal of developing methods that support more-sustainable technologies. Integrated product-service systems are also emphasized. Researchers characterize value behavior across multiple life cycles; perform modular design to facilitate assembly, maintenance, and disassembly/remanufacturing; and feature and material selection via multiple criteria design.

Polymers

Departmental research in polymers investigates the design of plastic parts, the effect of elongational viscosity on polymeric flows, and the estimation of elongational viscosity for polymeric melts. Researchers employ polymer-processing computer simulation, 3-D simulation of the flow in ceramic-injection molding, the mixing of polymers, and the optimization of die geometry for polymer extrusion.

Faculty + Research = Discovery

Our department boasts world-class faculty who have access to numerous innovative research labs and are committed to discovery and learning. This encompasses a range of research areas, experiences, and expertise related to sustainable manufacturing and design. Learn more about our faculty and their research interests:

Research Projects

Our faculty engage in a number of research projects, many of which are publicly funded. A sample listing of recent research projects related to sustainable manufacturing and design appears below. You can also view a broader list of research projects taking place across the mechanical engineering department.

Past Projects

Senior Design: Chrysler Ram Tailgate

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Project Description

Design, engineer, build, and test a new carbon fiber lightweight tailgate with an aluminum sub-structure. The first goal is to save a minimum of 25% weight over the current steel design. Additional goal will be to incorporate a unique selling feature into the design of the gate that provides an alternative function of the tailgate that can be marketed. Intent is to create a product that can be used for a limited volume high performance vehicle or eco fuel-efficient package.

Background

The Dodge Ram full size pickup is a very important vehicle for Chrysler Corporation and is considered one of the primary pillars and major profit generators. The truck is very popular in a wide variety of markets from personal use to commercial applications. Two plants currently build the RAM truck with volume exceeding 300,000 units per year (Warren Truck Assembly Plant and Saltillo Assembly Plant). The push for improved fuel economy is driving the company to look for ways to save weight while maintaining the functionality that the customer has come to expect. This project is intended to create what is called a "buzz" model, which is limited in volume (5000 units), is aspirational, and contains features not normally available in other mainstream vehicles. Carbon Fiber is a very high tech material and its appearance on the exterior of the truck communicates a perception of performance equivalent to high-end sports cars. It provides outstanding strength to-weight ratio, which will provide a solid platform to save mass. In addition to simply saving weight, the goal of the team is to develop a unique selling feature designed into the tailgate. Some ideas that have been discussed are an integrated barbeque, storage compartment, fold out table, step assist. There have even been really creative ideas such as a fish cleaning station, or clay pigeon throwing mechanism. Bottom line is the team will need to brainstorm different ideas that would be marketable to a specific segment of the population and design the feature into the tailgate.

Need(s) Addressed

Excess mass in any motor vehicle today relates directly to fuel inefficiency. It is critical for carmakers today to minimize any mass in the vehicle that is not necessary. The current steel design of the Tailgate weighs 60 pounds. The goal of this project is to save a minimum of 25%

(15 lbs) while being manufacturable, production-viable, cost efficient, and meet all structural and customer performance requirements as outlined in the design validation plan (DVP&R).

Additionally, incorporate an alternative function into the Tailgate as previously described and demonstrate its function. The team will need to develop appropriate tests for whatever feature is decided on to ensure all range of customer usage can be done robustly without failure.

Project Scope

This design project will focus on designing and developing a lightweight tailgate concept that meets the customer functional objectives and amazes them with dual-purpose function. In general, the swing gate must:

• Meet all static and dynamic load cases as specified in DVP&R.

• Contain design provisions for use of existing hardware (latch/striker, handles etc).

• 25% lighter than current design.

• Production manufacturable using available processes.

• Cost efficient such that business case is positive and tooling is paid for in 1 year.

Awarded Amount: $20,432

Senior Design: Roadside Repair Module

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Project Goal

Design and demonstrate a better way of lowering an under slung spare tire and packaging all of the tools and accessories necessary in the same space.

Background

Most anyone reading this brief will be familiar with the practice of packaging of roadside repair modules and/or spare tires with any modem passenger car or truck. Configurations of this content will vary somewhat from vehicle to vehicle, although the fundamental purpose is the same: to provide for emergency roadside repairs in as efficient a manner as possible.

Need(s) Addressed

Chrysler has identified room for improvement in their spare tire package tray in their current SUV product line. The current method of lowering the spare requires a winch, which is right in the middle of the package tray and takes up valuable real estate. This scheme would benefit from a fresh design approach, and some of the known design constraints would be the exhaust, heat shields, rear differential...etc.

Project Scope

This project team will investigate more compact winch mechanisms and different alterative of mounting an under-slung spare tire to the rear of the vehicle.

This project is relative to a 2017 vehicle currently in development. Many may ask: why package a spare tire just use run flat tires or provide an inflator kit? The reason is run flats are expensive and degrade Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH) characteristics of the vehicle.

Inflator kits are offered with each vehicle. In fact the spare tire on all of our vehicles is optional.

The issue is that the NAFTA customer still wants a spare tire and therefore the take rate of the spare tire option is relatively high.

At the team's request the customer will provide the following:

• Detailed data defining existing design space and known constraints

• Samples of current hardware- spare tire, tools, rear floor pan

• Initial overview and definition of known issues, alternatives considered, and options available

Project Objectives

• Design, prototype, and demonstrate a novel emergency roadside repair module suitable for an SUV platform

- Design options considered must respect the following:

- Monumental Components- these cannot be moved, nor can their space be violated:

- Rear Bumper Beam

- Trailer Hitch Beam

- Outer Vehicle Profile

- Inner/Outer Closeout Panels

- Suspension/Cradle

- Rails with PLP holes

- Bumper Beam & Closure Panel Attachments

- Third Row Seats

- Tools in the rear floor panel tub can be re-arranged to fit the winch mechanism in a desirable method, current or deeper tool tub depth is desired.

- The spare tire can be under-slung with a winch mechanism, a cage, or a method that has not yet been investigated.

Awarded Amount: $26,765

Senior Design: Lightweight Pop Rivet Tool with Reporting Capability

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Project Goal

Design and demonstrate an improved (reduced weight) POP rivet installation tool.

Background

Those familiar with the automotive assembly process and have a basic understanding of manufacturing constraints such has cycle time, repeatability, durability, and ergonomic limitations.

Need(s) Addressed

Chrysler has found an opportunity for engineering students to become exposed to the assembly environment by reviewing and redesigning components or systems of a POP rivet gun air tool. The use of rivets as an attachment mechanism is expected to increase. Also, the further an assembly plant operator has to hold the rivet tool away from the centerline of his/her body, the more the weight of the tool becomes critical. Reducing the weight of the tool even by ounces will allow the operator to hold the tool longer and will increase the repeatability of the process. Additionally, current tools do not have the ability to measure the stroke and force of the rivet while it is being strained. A modular measurement device mounted on the rivet tool should also be integrated into the design.

Project Scope

This project team will investigate lighter weight designs of components and or systems that make up a POP rivet air tool. This project will optimize current POP rivet air tool designs such that Chrysler will be able to allow the repeated use of this tool for extended periods of time. Ideally, this design can be used in multiple assembly plant on different vehicle platforms.

At the team's request the customer will provide the following:

• Detailed data defining existing tooling and known constraints

• Samples of current hardware- POP rivet guns and unused rivets

• Initial overview and definition of known issues, alternatives considered, and options available

Project Objectives

• Design, prototype, and demonstrate an updated design of a POP rivet tool. Design options considered must respect the following:

- Safety

-  Design must be easy to use and WILL NOT introduce any risk while in use or being repaired

-  Ergonomically easy to use

-  Design must consider balance of tool

-  Design must consider trigger placement

-  Design must consider operator feedback for a successful shot

Reduced weight

-  Design may use lighter weight materials

-  Design may use weight optimized components

-  Design may use few parts

-  Design must be able to withstand several drops from approximately 3 feet and still function properly

Awarded Amount: $26,765

Senior Design: Gear Housing Joint Design

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Project Goal

Improve performance of interfaces involving dissimilar metals and bolted joints.

Background

Linamar is a global supplier of drivetrain components and systems, including transmissions, transfer case assemblies, differential assemblies, and power takeoff units. Market driven demands for higher performance and lower mass are leading designs of these systems and components toward use of light alloys wherever possible. Many components, however, require the use of cast iron because of strength demands, thus leading to dissimilar metal interfaces within these systems. Bolt load retention is of importance when considering the required clamp load to seal housings and the durability of the system. Bolt load retention is a function of many factors, but of particular interest is the effect of temperature, dissimilar materials, and geometric spacing on the bolt fatigue life.

Need(s) Addressed

Designs historically based on cast iron or similar materials are now faced with new challenges of incorporating these light alloys. Joints, interfaces, and load paths require scrutiny to assure proper system level performance and acceptable service life. Due to the increased use of aluminum die cast covers in particular, as well as the demands for reduced cost and weight, it is desired to acquire a deeper understanding of the behavior of these components within various driveline systems. For example, the effect of bolt spacing in relation to certain design variables and of the introduction of certain materials on the fatigue life of a bolted joint over various temperatures are of interest. Greater understanding of these types of joints is desired. If the behavior of an aluminum-to-cast iron interface could be quantified and compared to that of a cast iron-to-cast iron inte1face, more effective product designs would be possible.

Project Scope

This design team will focus on exploring and introducing design improvements for systems and structures involving dissimilar metallic joints. This work should involve research into phenomena that may influence performance of such joints and inh•oducing designs aimed at improving this performance. There are many aspects to proper performance of this type of structure, including thermal cycling, fastener type and spacing, alloy types, etc. The design team is encouraged to explore these and other parameters of interest.

This work may involve designing and building a test system that will enable quantification of various design approaches. Essentially, this device should be designed to accept gear housings of various configurations (within limits- specified by customer) and run through a series of tests intended to reveal behavior of various gear housing configurations. These tests could include thermal cyclic loading, direct and reactionary loads, and bolt stress-strain behavior relative tension/load and fatigue life. Axial and transverse (shear) cyclic loading should both be considered.

Linamar can provide the following in support of the design team's work:

• Typical housings, castings, and related components representing various types of dissimilar joints

• Associated hardware (bolts, mating parts, etc.)

• Background information bringing the team up to speed on specific areas of concern specifications for necessary thermal profiles and load cases

Project Objectives

• Improve the performance of bolted joints involving dissimilar metals:

- Thermal cyclic loading

- Mechanical cyclic loading

- Quantify bolt load retention vs. fatigue life

- Shear load capacity

Awarded Amount: $25,279

Senior Design: Rear Differential Case Testing

Investigators
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Objective:

Evaluate durability of various combinations of surface treatment and material composition on rear differential housings.

Project Scope

American Axle Manufacturing sponsored a series of Capstone Design projects ultimately concluding with the completion of an apparatus and method for evaluation of wear resistance on the internal surfaces of helical gear differentials. This project will make use of that previously built test rig to evaluate various types of surface treatments and materials regarding their resistance to wear. Sample preparation will entail cutting whole rear differentials (supplied by AAM) into thirds, each third comprising a test sample. The sample will then have appropriate micro-milled pockets created and measured for depth. Each test sample (line items shown below) will be setup and run for 1 hour. The sample will then be removed, and each micro-milled pocket measured for depth. The before vs. after pocket depths will comprise an indication of relative wear resistance of each surface treatment/material combination.

Awarded Amount: $8,541

Senior Design: Automated Sealant System

Investigators
Principal Investigator: Aneet Narendranath
Co-Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Senior Capstone Design (SCD) Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab based "hands-on" curriculum to provide students "their first job, not their last class," while helping our customers - companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit entities - address their aggressive goals and tight budgets while providing a fresh perspective. Our teams are formed by considering student background, interests, and thinking preferences. Student teams are advised by an eight-person Advisory Team, the members of which are selected based on their technical expertise - to cover the array of typical technical needs associated with projects - and for their proven ability to guide students in solving real, applied problems. Our projects span two semesters beginning with the development of a project plan, where end-user needs, customer needs, project objectives, constraints, and metrics for success are defined. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a functionally demonstrative prototype that is tested and reworked toward meeting the design requirements. Projects commence in late August and early January.

Project Goal

Design and prototype an automated sealant application system.

Background

HGS Aerospace specializes in engineering • and assembly solutions for aerospace manufacturing. They focus on advanced fabricating and assembly techniques, robotics~ flexible tools, and automated machinery Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone Design Program applied to aircraft manufacture. One of the many critical and time intensive operations in aircraft manufacture involves sealing seams and fasteners at the many inter-component 3'oints in the aircraft’s fuselage and wing structures. Sealing these joints is required for a number of reasons, including maintaining the integrity of pressurized bulkheads and covering of exposed sharp edges. Exposed sharp edges can produce sparking in certain atmospheric conditions. If the aircraft's structure has an exposed sharp edge at any joint in a critical area, it must be sealed and encapsulated. The beads used in sealing these joints and covering these sharp edges must be of a certain form. The cross section of these beads is very specific and highly inspected, and is a very time-intensive part of an aircraft’s assembly. For example, the current Boeing C17 wing spar assemblies require 642 hours to seal and encapsulate fasteners.

Moreover, this manual process requires a long period of training on the part of technicians to acquire the proficiency in its completion. Many manufacturers experience high turnover rates among the trained corps applying this sealant. Acquiring the proper skills takes upwards of 6 months, and these skilled technicians often stay on this duty for the same period of time.

Need(s) Addressed

Given the repetitive nature of this process, it is envisioned that an automated operation could take its place. It is estimated that a properly engineered system could transform the present 642 - hour manual process into a 60-hour automated process. This automated process would also save the hours of training and re-training of qualified personnel currently driven by the manual process.

Project Scope

This design team on this project will have a fantastic opportunity to establish a baseline for a new aircraft production process. Building on the work done by a previous design team during the 2012-2013 academic year, this new team will be responsible for enabling a robotic system to provide for accurate and repeatable sealant beads to be applied in two-dimensional space. There are a number of components expected to be part of the desired solution here: robot, sealant mixing/dispensing units, etc. HOS Aerospace will be providing these elements, and the robot is already at Michigan Tech (in B004). The team wiII be responsible for the design and engineering of the device and the integration of these elements into a functional solution.

At the team's request the customer will provide the following:

• two-part sealant for use in developing device

• all relevant standards and specifications

• Michigan Tech will provide copy of final report from last year's team- this new team should read that at start of project to understand what was done, status of robot at Tech, recommendations, etc ...

Project Objectives

• Two dimensional application of sealant

• Compliant end effector to follow seams

• Vision to see the target and validate the bead

Awarded Amount: $30,780

Senior Design: Intake Manifold Design

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Awarded Amount: $26,021

Senior Design: Bearing Adjuster Lock Ring Test Rig

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Confidential

Awarded Amount: $25,650

Senior Design: Drive Motor in Dowel Agitation

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Background

BISSELL manufactures and markets vacuums, carpet sweepers, deep cleaners, hard surface appliances and a full line of floor cleaning consumables. Founded 137 years ago in Grand Rapids, the family-owned company sells more vacuums and floor cleaners than any other company in the world.

This particular project will focus around the full size upright vacuum category. Recent industry trends have leaned toward smaller, lightweight, and more agile product architectures.

The ability to innovate and remain efficacy while reducing product size is important. To this end,

BISSELL wants to develop an integrated brush dowel and drive motor assembly to reduce product weight, improve quality, and give the end consumer an innovative cleaning solution.

Most brush dowel systems are driven via a belt from an external motor, either dedicated to the brush or driven from a shaft exiting the vacuum motor. Although the concept of placing the motor inside of a dowel has been attempted several times by our competition, neither of these designs were integrated cleanly or in a cost-conscious manner.

Need(s) Addressed

As previously stated, this motor-driven brush dowel assembly will be part of full sized upright vacuum. BISSELL is aiming to provide a lightweight/maneuverable product without sacrificing cleaning performance. This motor in dowel assembly should be integrated as seamlessly as possible, with thoughtful mounting and wire routing. The design should also be tested and proven to meet BISSELL's typical vacuum cleaner life test of 250-300 hours of simulated use. As this life-test fixturing is quite extensive, BISSELL can set-up and run this test on site. The consumer (end-user) should not notice any difference (noise, large speed fluctuations, and excessive vibration) between this motor in dowel design, and a traditionally driven brush dowel. Although this dowel assembly will most likely be serviced by a trained technician, the dowel should still remain accessible for consumer recommended maintenance (i.e. clearing debris, removing hair, etc).

Project Scope

This motor driven brush assembly will be used on a BISSELL "full sized" vacuum. Dowel length will be approximately 12-14" long and dowel diameter, not including extra material thickness for bristle tufting, should not exceed 2.10". (Solutions that are reasonably close dimensionally should still be reviewed with sponsor advisor.) Integrated motor will need defined cooling air paths in order to keep motor below allowable heat rise limits. Brush speed should fall between 3K-4K RPM, with a working motor torque of 150 mNm imparted to the dowel. BISSELL will provide a narrowed motor range that students can select from.

Project Objectives

    • Determine best motor for application for given dowel dimensions based on loading

    • Review and navigate through existing IP (BISSELL to provide)

    • Determine appropriate transmission (style, ratio, materials) to achieve stated brush RPM

    • Investigate noise/sound characteristics of chosen transmission

    • Develop estimated costed bill of materials for top 2-3 design architectures

    • Investigate cooling air flow rates and associated motor temps at various load cases

    • Investigate long term robustness and wear characteristics with accelerated life testing (to be performed at BISSELL)

Awarded Amount: $26,765

Fuze Testing Capability Development

Investigators
Principal Investigator: William Endres
College/School: College of Engineering
Department(s): Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Confidential

Awarded Amount: $332,172