Tony Schmitz, Professor, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering and Joint Faculty, ORNL
The mission of the Machine Tool Research Center is to operationalize machining science to serve the discrete part manufacturing community and enable next-generation Smart Manufacturing. The overall focus is improving the practicing engineer’s ability to produce accurate components in a timely manner; this has important ramifications for both the private and defense sectors. Our approach is to perform fundamental research in support of this goal, while taking care to consider the practical implementation of our research efforts. Through this combined agenda, students from the high school to graduate levels are trained to have strong analytical/numerical modeling capabilities coupled with fundamental experimental techniques and data analysis skills, including physics-based machine learning.
While the historical focus of manufacturing research has been at the macro-scale, technological innovations have expanded research activities to the micro- and nano-scales. This multi-scale manufacturing approach mirrors the current climate within the manufacturing industry which demands expertise at all length scales. We also recognize that manufacturing in the 21st century requires knowledge in many areas, including structural dynamics, optics and photonics, precision design, heat transfer, uncertainty analysis, machine learning, and metrology (the science of measurement), in order to develop process models and improve efficiency. An important example is the use of machining and hybrid manufacturing (additive manufacturing combined with machining) to produce discrete components in the aerospace, energy, automotive, and biomedical industries from the micrometer to meter scales. This remains a cornerstone of our research efforts.