Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering


Trajectory Planning, High Performance Computing, The Cloud and an Economic Silver Lining for Manufacturing


Dr. Thomas Kurfess


GT Mechanical Engineering


Friday, December 7, 2012 at 10:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Chris Paredis


Two corner stones of digital manufacturing are high performance computing (HPC) and the cloud which are driving small lot, highly innovative enterprises. A variety of new Internet sites enabling companies to bid on complex small quantity production jobs are providing opportunities for both innovators with new products and small job shops that can rapidly produce parts. It is expected that such opportunities will expand significantly as cloud manufacturing and the supporting cyber infrastructure grows. For example, it is possible today to put an electronic request for quote (RFQ) on-line and have a manufactured part within a few days. Fabrication of such parts is often done by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) / machine shops known as job shops. These shops have CAE systems and CNC machine tools. Unfortunately, most major customers of job shops require that these shops run a variety of compatible CAE systems to enable supposedly seamless transfer of designs for quoting and production purposes. For many military applications, an electronic file format for a CAD model is a PDF output, which can only be viewed on screen or printed, and not loaded into a CAD system for further processing. Factors such as gouging, collisions, multiple tools and multiple tool paths make process planning for machining significantly more complex. This complexity is increased significantly when part complexity increases requiring more advanced machining capabilities such as 5-axis machining. By linking significant numbers of customers to these SME’s, cloud manufacturing can potentially increase the quantity of available work by several orders of magnitude. This will exacerbate the quoting problem as the number of RFQ’s will grow by several orders of magnitude. The research presented in this talk addresses this need from a cyber-physical systems perspective by employing digital models, in conjunction with readily available HPC platforms (e.g., multi-core, GPU, and cloud) to enable rapid trajectory generation and process planning for use in both cost estimation/quoting and, ultimately, production and verification. For cloud manufacturing, this will enable even the smallest and least sophisticated manufacturing node in the cloud to rapidly respond to large number of quote requests for complex parts utilizing low cost cyber infrastructure resources that are currently available and expanding on a daily basis. Furthermore, this capability will enable designers and manufacturers to optimize their performance including minimizing costs, energy consumption, waste generation (scrap and chips), and material utilization (light weight designs), ultimately opening-up new markets and business models for local SME’s which currently employ the majority of many local population segments.


Thomas R. Kurfess received his S.B., S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from M.I.T. in 1986, 1987 and 1989, respectively. He also received an S.M. degree from M.I.T. in electrical engineering and computer science in 1988. Following graduation, he joined Carnegie Mellon University where he rose to the rank of Associate Professor. In 1994 he moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology where he rose to the rank of Professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. In 2005 he was named Professor and BMW Chair of Manufacturing in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. In 2012 he returned to Georgia Tech as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, where he is currently on leave and is serving as the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America. In this position he has responsibility for engaging the Federal sector and the greater scientific community to identify possible areas for policy actions related to manufacturing. He is responsible for coordinating Federal advanced manufacturing R&D, addressing issues related to technology commercialization, identifying gaps in current Federal R&D in advanced manufacturing, and developing strategies to address these gaps. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. His research focuses on the design and development of advanced systems targeting the automotive sector (OEM and supplier) including vehicle and production systems. He has significant experience in high precision manufacturing and metrology systems. He has received numerous awards including a National Science Foundation (NSF) Young Investigator Award, an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award, the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Award, SME Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year Award, the ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award, the ASME Gustus L. Larson Award, an ASME Swanson Federal Award, and the SME Education Award. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, the SME and the ASME.


Reception will follow.