Advanced Manufacturing

At Vanderbilt University, we concern ourselves with the manufacturing needs of the future. We answer questions like how can the car of the future be built more efficiently and how will the next space station be built and supplied? Specifically, we focus on friction stir welding, and applications of additive manufacturing (often called 3D printing).

Friction Stir Welding is a welding technique that will revolutionize the space, aerospace, and automotive industries. This solid state joining process used by both NASA and SpaceX in the construction of their shuttles. Previously unweldable alloys can be joined, as well as dissimilar materials. By joining dissimilar materials, designers can not only select materials on a part by part basis, but on an intra-part basis. Through friction stir welding techniques, we have welded iron meteorite, a conventionally un-weldable material.

Additive manufacturing can fundamentally change our notions of complex part development. By creating a reactive material architecture, rate and heat of the thermite reaction can be tuned by geometry as opposed to chemical composition. Metallic additive manufacturing can supply a framework for in-space manufacturing, reducing dependence on scheduled resupplies. Non-traditional materials and techniques can provide solutions to the ever-expanding problems of manufacturing.