Professor and student pouring metal cast in lab

Research and Facilities

When you enroll at WMU, you'll access a range of experience-driven learning opportunities that include lab work supervised by expert faculty, setting you up for succeed in industry.

The Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems is involved in a variety of research and training activities. The following is an overview of the areas that research teams work in, with some faculty members participating in more than one research area. The descriptions that follow present many of the areas of expertise that the listed faculty has.

The department also has shared responsibilities for the College Machine Shop

  • 3D Printing Lab

    Located in Floyd Hall, the 3D print lab allows for students, faculty and registered student organizations affiliated with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences an opportunity to learn about 3D printing and to request 3D printed objects. Please read all instructions before requesting to print.

  • Dimensional Metrology Lab

    Dimensional metrology methods are used to evaluate parts and tooling for precision, accuracy, surface finish, capability, and tolerance modeling. The ATOS II high-resolution digital scanning system allows precise volumetric scanning for dimensional verification. Training is offered in part and process verification through the application of quality management systems and ISO 9000.

    Faculty member: Dr. Mitchel Keil

    Metrology is the science of measurement. A metrologist is a person who practices one or more of the methods employed in measurement. All measurements are relative in that they are comparisons of some known standard. Some ways to measure things are by weight, pressure, resistance, temperature, quantity, capacity, etc.

    Metrology in the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems serves many majors which are related to manufacturing. In our modern industrial society, we need to be able to produce manufactured goods that are made to exacting standards, able to be repaired with interchangeable parts, and be consistent in their production so that costs can be reduced.

    Although all arts of measurement are important, the course titled Dimensional Metrology, focuses on the dimensional characteristics of products. Students successfully completing this course will:

    • Understand the purpose of critical dimensions in manufacturing.
    • Understand the principles and operation of precision measurement tools and equipment used in modern manufacturing.
    • Understand the fundamentals of inspection methods and systems.
    • Analyze simple parts for dimensional accuracy and functionality.
    • Measure the manufacturing process using deterministic metrology through statistical techniques.
    • Design simple inspection gauge and checking fixtures.
    • Design simple productive tooling that assures duplicate parts.

    Dimensional metrology methods are used to evaluate parts and tooling for precision, accuracy, surface finish, capability, and tolerance modeling. The ATOS II high-resolution digital scanning system allows precise volumetric scanning for dimensional verification. Training is offered in part and process verification through the application of quality management systems and ISO 9000.

  • Fabrication and Assembly Lab

    Used mainly by our manufacturing engineering technology students, the fabrication lab provides individuals with hands-on experience about materials and processes used in fabrication, and it is used to show students how and when to apply these materials and processes in an industrial environment.

    Fabrication has to do with studying and applying ways to form and connect materials in order to create a whole product. The process is one of the most important in the manufacturing of consumer products. For instance, what would modern society do without the likes of automobiles, ships, bulldozers and washing machines? All are examples of fabricated items. In fact even the building that houses our fabrication lab is an example of fabrication.

    Therefore, students may learn how to form materials such as sheet metal and angle iron, (such as an "I" beam) in order to integrate them into the final product. This task might include one or more of the following processes: press working, shearing, bending, flame cutting, welding and fastening methods including adhesives.

    Students may also be exposed to the post-fabrication methods of plating, coating, and painting for the aesthetic and protective improvement of a part or product.

  • Machining Lab

    Machining is a process where parts receive their final size and shape by the removal of chips using a shaped cutting tool. Traditional methods include sawing, turning on a lathe, milling, abrasive grinding, drilling and shaping machines. Modern methods use electrical discharge, abrasive water jet and lasers instead of a shaped cutting tool.

    Students learn how to set up and operate these machines in order to productively and economically produce consumer products. They understand jig and fixture design, cutting tool choices, material machine ability, cutting speed and feed rates and can calculate machine time and cost estimates.

  • Metal Casting Lab

    High performance cast metal design uses the four major solidification software packages, advancement of non-traditional casting processes, and thermal distortion testing of a variety of bonded mold materials.

    Faculty member: Dr. Sam Ramrattan, professor of engineering design, manufacturing and management systems

    Western Michigan University offers a superlative student-centered metal casting experience in an environment that is unparalleled by other colleges. The goal is to see students applying practical concepts that will prepare them for a future in the manufacturing industry. To achieve this our lab is equipped with machinery, tooling, hardware, and software to help students design, produce and test a wide range of cast metals and cast metal matrix composites.

    Our facilities and equipment allow students to understand the following melting, molding and casting processes, which are related to many facets of engineering: green sand mulling, green sand molding, shell molding, investment casting (wax press, tooling and cure furnace), gas and crucible melting, no-bake core melting, evaporative pattern casting and grinding and finishing.

    This lab allows for the custom formulations of alloys. Students and faculty use the following software programs to analyze these alloys, minimizing problems in casting defects and maximizing aesthetic qualities.

    • Gating design
    • Risering systems
    • Finite element analysis
    • Solidification analysis

    A metal casting short course sponsored by local chapters of the American Foundry Society is held at WMU each June. During a week-long stay, students work with a professor and senior CEAS students to mold, melt and pour.

  • Plastics Processing Lab

    Plastics process improvement includes mold and tooling design, polymer flow analysis, mold cooling optimization and process analysis. Process design and validation is for use of post-industrial and post-consumer recycled plastics by injection molding and extrusion.

    Faculty members: Jay Shoemaker

    In this lab you may use a variety of processing equipment and software to manufacture an array of plastics components. In close relation to this lab, you may use the equipment and software in our process evaluation lab in order to research the durability of products.

    Since Michigan ranks among the highest producers of finished goods for the plastics industry, it is no wonder that WMU has placed a focus on plastics education for the next generation of engineers.

    The fact that the plastics laboratory is the largest lab in its new Parkview facility reflects the university's commitment to the plastics industry and recognition that plastics will be an area of progress in the years to come.
    plastics lab

    Our faculty understands that today's students will be charged with finding the correct answers to tomorrow's problems, and this laboratory exposes them to practical ways of doing this in what amounts to a production facility on a college campus.

    The 7,900-square-foot plastics processing laboratory features the following processing cells and auxiliary equipment: injection machines

    • 5 Injection molding cells ranging from 18-110 tons.
    • Sheet extrusion, blown film, and pelletizing lines.
    • A spray booth.
    • Mold temperature controllers and chillers.
    • Resin, drying, conveying, grinding, blending and fines separation.
    • Portable part conveyors.
    • A complete installation of Moldflow software (including flow and cooling analysis packages).
  • Process Evaluation Lab

    The Process Evaluation Laboratory supports measurement and testing, primarily in the areas of plastics processing and metal casting. The climate-controlled atmosphere enables the testing of mechanical, thermal, chemical and physical properties of industrial materials. The lab features state-of-the-industry melt index, thermal distortion, tensile/comprehensive, hardness, UV and sand testing equipment.

    Students gain hands-on experience in standardized industrial testing procedures sanctioned by organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Material  and the American Foundry Society.