Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity

The Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP) is an interdepartmental laboratory in the School of Engineering with three major goals:

With 13 faculty and senior research staff and 70 graduate students, the laboratory conducts research in the areas of design, analysis, and control of manufacturing processes and systems.

This research is conducted through industrial consortia, sponsored research projects, and government grants. LMP's major areas of interest include production system design, precision engineering, three-dimensional printing (3DP), rapid autonomous machining, reconfigurable tooling, droplet-based manufacturing, automatic identification, continuous casting monitoring, machine elements and systems design, tribology , microcellular plastics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and environmentally benign manufacturing (EBM).

In addition, LMP works closely with many other departments, labs, and programs at MIT including the Singapore-MIT Alliance, the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, and the Lean Aerospace Initiative. Many of our research projects are also conducted in collaboration with companies. In total, the laboratory works with about 50 different companies worldwide. Our government support, which is often coordinated with industrial support, comes from a variety of agencies—Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Department of Energy.

LMP experienced a slight decrease in funding for the year 2001–2002 with a research volume of $3.4 million. A few projects contributed disproportionately to this volume—notably the work of Professor Ely Sachs (3DP), Dr. David Cochran (production systems design), and Professor David Trumper (precision engineering).

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Highlights and Awards

In the past year, Professors Jung-Hoon Chun, Emanuel Sachs, and Nam Suh were all on sabbatical. Professor Suh stepped down as head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Drs. Sang Gook Kim and Martin Culpepper joined us as associate professor and assistant professor, respectively. Dr. David Cochran became a principal research scientist. Professor Gutowski became the associate head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

This year Professor Sang Kim joined the laboratory. Professor Kim's interests are focused on MEMS for microphotonics and nano-manufacturing projects. These include MEMS optical switches by direct-photonic-beam steering, strain-tunable optical gratings, lasers and photonic crystals, large-strain piezoelectric micro actuators, piezoelectric micro-power generators, and nano-pelleting of carbon nanotubes.

Professor Martin Culpepper also joined the laboratory this year. Professor Culpepper's research looks at various precision-fixturing problems, including adjustable precision-fixturing concepts for a variety of applications ranging from automotive to weapons.

Dr. David Cochran's program in production system design continues to expand in new areas. This year Dr. Cochran captured important funding in aerospace systems analysis, supply chain design, and factory redesign.

Dr. Stanley B. Gershwin continues both his high level of activity with the Singapore-MIT Alliance and his systems research, which is currently focused on complex manufacturing systems-analysis models. This year he was honored with two important awards—the Best Paper Award for the IIE Transactions focus issues on Design and Manufacturing for 2000–2001, and the Outstanding IIE Publication Award for 2000–2001.

Professor David Hardt has taken a principal leadership role as liaison faculty in manufacturing to the Singapore-MIT Alliance. As part of his responsibilities, he has developed a MEng degree program in manufacturing for Singapore. This highly integrated set of courses that cover topics in processing, equipment, automation, process control, systems and product design, as well as basic business issues, was introduced to Singapore by MIT faculty last summer. Professor Hardt has also expanded his research into new areas including space interferometry.

Professor Samir Nayfeh is developing significant new research in precision machine design, mechanical power transmission, machine dynamics, and control. This year he initiated significant new research in the design of new bias ply weaving systems and equipment for composite materials.

five-axis milling machine
A five-axis milling machine using parallel and serial elements, designed and constructed by Professor Sanjay Sarma and his co-workers in the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity.

Professor Sanjay Sarma, the Cecil and Ida Green career development professor, was awarded the Keenan Award for innovation in undergraduate education this year. He has continued to be active in the Auto-ID Center, which he co-founded with his colleagues Dr. David Brock and Professor Kai-Yeung Siu. The center's mission is to create an intelligent infrastructure to connect physical objects to the internet and to each other. This consortium continues to grow with applications to inventory control, material tracking and reordering, and material and product recycling. The center now has over 50 sponsors and has started a sister center in the University of Cambridge, England. Professor Sarma has also continued his work in computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing/computer numerical control and haptics. A new computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing system developed by his group is now in negotiation for licensing. He has also designed and constructed a new five-axis milling machine which combines parallel kinematics with serial kinematics.

Professor Alex Slocum has been active in evolving precision engineering fundamentals for MEMS applications, including micro-electronics sub-micron wafer-to-wafer positioning location accuracy, and the MEMS manufacture of "nanogate" flow control valves, with valve openings that can be controlled from 0 to 2,000 nanometers in 2 nanometer increments. He has also developed a ceiling-based magnetic wheel robot (magnewheelbots) for hospital automation. These robots have two magnetic wheels that enable them to hang like a pendulum

from steel sheets fastened to the ceiling and walls. They can drive across the ceiling and down walls, enabling them to travel between floors without the need for elevators because they can use stairwells.

Professor Nam Suh's new book on axiomatic design has been published by Oxford University Press, and his previous book, entitled Principles of Design, has been translated into Japanese and Korean.

Professor David Trumper was been very active in the development of the undergraduate mechanical engineering subject 2.003. In addition, his research program has continued in the areas of precision motion control and systems.

Professor Timothy Gutowski has redirected his research into the area of environmentally benign manufacturing, focusing of the development of "green engineering principles." He has started new projects on the design of a recyclable printer and on the environmental analysis of manufacturing processes. He has just finished projects on design guidelines for advanced composites fabrication and on the redesign of a flexible manufacturing system.

Timothy G. Gutowski
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

More information about the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity can be found online at


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