$2.2M NSF Grant Received to Facilitate the Future of Design at Human-Technology Frontier

In this project, the University of Arkansas, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oregon State University, and the Concord Consortium will collaborate to define, implement, and disseminate generative design tools and projects for use in undergraduate courses. Research questions from three perspectives will drive the project: 1) Theoretical perspective: What are the essential elements of generative design thinking that students must acquire so they can work effectively at the human-technology frontier in engineering? 2) Practical perspective: To what extent and in what ways can the curriculum and materials support the learning of generative design as indicated by students’ gains in generative design thinking? and 3) Affective perspective: To what extent and in what ways can artificial intelligence affect the professional formation of engineers as indicated by the changes of students’ interest and self-efficacy in engineering? This project represents a novel application of artificial intelligence to engineering that could augment the creativity and productivity of the engineering workforce of the future. See the NSF website for more details about this project.

Welcome New PhD Students

This fall, two new PhD students working as Graduate Research Assistants joined in SiDi Lab: 1. Xingang Li graduated from Tianjin University, China with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to joining in the PhD program, Xingang worked in auto industry at OTICS Corporation in Japan for four years. He has practical working experience in design of automotive engine parts for major car manufacturers, such as Toyota and SAIC Motor Co., Ltd. 2. Yinshuang Xiao, who holds BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, graduated from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Prior to joining in SiDi Lab, she was working as a R&D Engineer for new energy vehicles at SAIC Volkswagen in Shanghai. Yinshuang has extensive research experience in computational electromagnetic and EMC characteristics of EV component. Welcome on Board!

Our paper earned the Robert E. Fulton Best Paper Award

Our paper titled “A Deep Learning Based Approach to Predicting Sequential Design Decisions” was recently selected as the awardee of the Robert E. Fulton Best Paper Award from the Computers & Information in Engineering (CIE) Division of the ASME. Molla H. Rahman, the PhD student from SiDi Lab and the first author of this paper, presented the work at the 39th ASME CIE Conference in Anaheim, California, August 20. Please see more information here.


SiDi is Sub-awarded from AMBOTs to Conduct Research on Swarm 3D Printing and Assembly via NSF SBIR Program

SiDi Lab has been working closely with AM3 Lab and AMBOTs, a pioneer start-up company in advanced additive manufacturing, to research and develop swarm 3D printing and assembly technologies. We recently received funding from National Science Foundation SBIR program (Phase 1) to expand current 3D printing capabilities with a swarm 3D printing and assembly platform (SPA).

SPA synergistically integrates 3D printing techniques with swarm robotics, thus effectively addressing the issues pertaining to print time, print cost and print quality – the three objectives that current 3D printing technologies cannot simultaneously achieve. The primary intellectual merit of this project lies in a new approach to realizing cooperative 3D printing and manufacturing between multiple independent 3D printers and robots, which provides a modular and reconfigurable digital manufacturing platform. In this project, we propose a new hardware platform based on a novel mobile 3D printer with a Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA) and a new software to coordinate multiple mobile 3D printers and assembly robots. This enables multi-color and multi-material printing, as well as integration of pre-manufactured components into print jobs. The anticipated technical outcome is an integrated SPA system that is capable of printing large-scale objects while assuring print quality comparable to current small-scale commercial 3D printers. For more information about this project, please visit here.

Our research on swarm 3D printing and cooperative 3D printing technologies has been highlighted by media. See this post.

PhD Student Laxmi Poudel Won the Travel Award to Present at 2019 ASME-CIE Graduate Research Poster Session

The PhD student Laxmi Poudel won the 2019 ASME-CIE Graduate Research Poster Competition, and is awarded $750 travel support to present his PhD research on the topic of “Autonomous and Cooperative 3D Printing” during the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference in Anaheim, CA, during August 18-21, 2019. There are 19 applications submitted this year. Congratulations to Laxmi! He will also present his paper “Computational Design of Scheduling Strategies for Multi-Robot Cooperative 3D Printing” in this year’s conference too.

SiDi Lab Received Fund to Accelerate Technology Transfer and Commercialization

SiDi Lab directed by Dr. Sha and AM3 Lab directed by Dr. Wenchao Zhou recently received Commercialization Fund from University of Arkansas Office of Economic Development to accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of our research on Cooperative 3D Printing (C3DP). This project will collaborate with AMBOTS Inc., a startup company aims to automate manufacturing with a swarm of smart and autonomous mobile robots, to commercialize key technologies span off from our research, such as mobile print robots, chunk-based printing and C3DP scheduling. The Commercialization Fund is generously funded by Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation and administered by UA’s Office of Economic Development to provide short-term funding for actionable projects that move technologies toward the marketplace.


Three Papers Accepted by IDETC 2019

This year we have three papers accepted by ASME 2019 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference. Congratulations to the PhD students Molla Rahman and Laxmi Poudel. They will present their work in August at the conference that will be held at Anaheim in California this year.

  • M. Rahman, C. Xie, Z. Sha, “A Deep Learning Based Approach to Predicting Sequential Design Decisions”.
  • L. Poudel, W. Zhou, Z. Sha, “Computational Design of Scheduling Strategies for Multi-Robot Cooperative 3D Printing“.
  • J. Xie, Y. Bi, Z. Sha, M. Wang, Y. Fu, N. Contractor, W. Chen, “A Dynamic Network Analysis Approach to Understanding the Impact of Engineering Design on Evolutions of Market Competition”.

First Cooperatively Printed Part

On March 20th 2019, after more than two year’s collaborative efforts with Dr. Wenchao Zhou, an Assistant Professor from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the UA and the startup company AMBOTS, we made the world-first cooperatively 3D-printed part. It is the first time that multiple independent 3D printers work together to print a part with a size way bigger than the printer itself. This achievement is realized through our Swarm Printing concept and the cooperative 3D printing (C3DP) platform. The workpiece (a beehive structural beam) shown in the picture is approximately 840×70×20 mm in L×W×H. The workpiece in this size would be impossibly printed by any existing commercial desktop 3D printers. The C3DP platform is backed by several research methods and technologies developed by the team, including 3D printing robotics, chunk-based slicer, chunk bond strength testing, and automatic scheduling and path planning for chunk-based C3DP. Our vision is to establish an Autonomous Digital Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) system of the future. On March 21st, we demonstrated our research and technologies to the R&D group of ArcBest. See media coverage on our project here.img_6927-e1553292874446.jpg