Monthly Archives: February 2020

Two men with 3-D printer
Two men with 3-D printer

Professor Andrew Wessman and sophomore Daniel McConville, both of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Project Title: Heated Build Plate for Additive Manufacturing System

Team 19035 Members:
Luis Fernando Arciniaga, materials science and engineering
Edward Ian Buster, mechanical engineering
Marcus Scott, mechanical engineering
Pieter van Drielen, materials science and engineering
Francisco Yerena, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell

A 3D printer housed in the College of Engineering gives students and researchers across campus a new way to build everything from heat-resistant parts for jet engines to detailed surgical implants and tooling for research projects.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, transforms digital parts designs into physical objects by depositing molten material one layer at a time to harden into a 3D shape. This MLab Cusing 200R model, provided by Honeywell and worth about $400,000, is the first and only machine on campus that uses additive manufacturing to create metal objects.

Four metallic objects: the word "LAME," a bottle opener, a business card and a fidget spinner.

An array of objects Professor Andrew Wessman and have students have produced using additive manufacturing machines — including a bottle opener, a fidget spinner and metal business card.

“Additive manufacturing opens up a freedom for designing new components for aerospace, biomedical and automotive applications that you couldn’t make any other way,” said Andrew Wessman, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, whose lab is housing the equipment. “This machine opens up opportunities for collaborations across the college and across campus — with optical sciences, architecture and even fine arts.”

The machine, which the Honeywell team nicknamed “Kenobi” after the legendary Jedi master, constructs parts by laser melting metal powders such as stainless steel, nickel alloys and titanium.

Applications Across the Earth — and Beyond
Applications for additive manufacturing are widespread. For example, it could enable the production of replacement parts for vehicles that are no longer manufactured. Soldiers in remote areas could build equipment parts by melting down spent brass shells, broken or surplus steel parts. They can even use soil, mixed with a binding agent, as a construction material. The use of 3D printing in space exploration is specifically highlighted in the university’s strategic plan. For example, astronauts may someday repurpose regolith, or loose rocky material found on distant planets, to 3D-print replacements for broken spaceship parts.

While many additive manufacturing programs are led by mechanical engineers working to optimize the fabrication process, materials science and engineering researchers are leading the University of Arizona initiative. The department is designing better materials at the outset to produce stronger and more lightweight structures.

Man with 3-D printer

Mechanical engineering senior Ed Buster is using the 3D printer “Kenobi” to complete his senior capstone project.

“The research we’re doing here will allow people to use the metals more effectively, or to use different kinds of metal alloy,” Wessman said. “We want to identify metal alloys that are really resistant to high temperatures encountered by objects like jet engines or rockets and create better engines that are still printable.”

The machine also opens up new educational opportunities. Wessman will be teaching a metal additive manufacturing course, open to students across campus, beginning in fall 2020.

“This is the first machine in a long family of machines we hope to bring here,” said materials science and engineering department head Pierre Deymier. “This initiative is targeting not just a research program, but also an education program, because students will gain hands-on experience with the machine. In some ways, it’s also a part of a workforce development program in additive manufacturing for the state of Arizona.”


Opportunities for Students
A 2019 report by Reports and Data projects that the additive manufacturing market will reach $23.33 billion in value in 2026, making experience in the field a valuable commodity.

“Honeywell and other U.S. industry players are seeing rapid growth in hiring in additive manufacturing,” said Greg Colvin, a technical fellow at Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell provided this equipment to the department to spur innovation, educate students with hands-on experience and help provide a pipeline of engineers and scientists with additive manufacturing experience to industry.”

A group of students working on a 2020 Honeywell-sponsored senior capstone project will be among the first to use the machine. They are creating a custom build plate with temperature control capabilities to investigate how the temperature of the surface on which parts are built affects construction.

“Additive manufacturing is a huge, growing field,” said capstone project team member Ed Buster, a mechanical engineering major. “It’s a tool mechanical engineers are going to need to know in the future.”

Materials science and engineering major Louie Arciniaga is working on the project as well. He has used additive manufacturing in his role as an undergraduate research assistant with John Szivek, a BIO5 faculty member and professor of orthopaedic surgery, aerospace and mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering and physiological sciences. One of Szivek’s research projects uses 3D printing to create scaffolding around which broken bones can regrow and heal.

Materials science and engineering doctoral student Anna Hayes used a machine similar to the MLab Cusing 200R during an internship at Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, and her master’s thesis focused on additive manufacturing with regolith.

“Because it’s such a new process, there is still a lot that is not understood about the metallurgy and how changing the process can alter the properties of your final part,” she said. “It’s a big area for research, so this machine provides a valuable chance for materials science and engineering students to learn about the solidification process.”

Men in blue polo shirts, seated at a table.

The Façade Technologies team: Ramos Jiuru Chen, Sam Badger, Sean Farris, Andrew Kirima, Nikhith Vankireddy. Philippe Cutillas not pictured.

Project Title:
Custom Python API Generator for Controlling Existing User Interfaces

Team 19033 Members:
Sam Badger, electrical and computer engineering
Ramos Jiuru Chen: electrical and computer engineering
Philippe Cutillas: electrical and computer engineering and mathematics
Sean Farris: electrical and computer engineering and computer science
Andrew Kirima: systems engineering
Nikhith Vankireddy: engineering management

Sponsor: Façade Technologies

Making Software Automation Simple

Electrical and computer engineering student Sam Badger always liked the idea of starting his own business.

While interning at Mahr Inc. in spring 2019, he developed a library to automate a piece of software. After he moved on to a summer internship at Raytheon, he started thinking about ways to build on that previous work.

With the arrival of his senior year, Badger realized he had the opportunity to shape his capstone experience if he started a company to sponsor his own project, so he did.

He’s now the CEO of the software startup Façade Technologies. For his capstone project, he and his teammates are developing software called Facile, which creates application programming interfaces, or APIs, for other software. APIs act as intermediaries between two applications. But the APIs he and his team are creating are designed to interact with graphical user interfaces, and they have a variety of purposes.

For example, they could allow people with little programming experience to add an extra feature to existing software or make the user interface easier to operate. The company name comes from the idea that, though another application may be running in the background, a user will only be able to see a simple mask, or “facade.”

“Facile produces APIs that automate the role of the user,” Badger said. “Maybe you have a lot of software that you want to be more connected. Say, you want to extract data from an inventory program, insert some of it into a tax program and post some of it to your website. Multiple Facile APIs could work together to achieve this.”

Software and Soft Skills

The project has been a learning experience in more ways than one. Badger had to build on both his software development chops and his leadership skills on the project, which is part of a pilot effort in the capstone program to teach students Agile process. The team members are also expanding their coding abilities to tackle programming challenges.

“I walked into this project without any knowledge on how to code in Python,” said Philippe Cutillas, who is studying electrical and computer engineering and math. “Since then, Python has quickly become one of my favorite programming languages. This project has given me a glimpse of what it would be like working professionally as a software developer, and I proudly list it on my resume.”

After graduation, Badger hopes to license usage of Facile.

“What’s keeping me going is knowing that we have a product here that could be competitive with other, similar products,” Badger said. “We have a lot of ideas for how to improve on this project after senior design is over, so we’ll continue developing for a while.”

Students touring brewing company

Team 19055 learns the details of brewing at Barrio.

The technical skillsets engineering students build at the University of Arizona – such as writing code and designing and building machines – often go to good use at engineering-focused companies. However, these skills are also necessary to keep a wide range of businesses running, such as restaurants, ceramics factories and breweries. Three capstone projects, sponsored by such companies, exemplify how engineering is something that impacts all facets of life.

Rolling Taquitos

Mateo Otero, chef and owner at Rollies Mexican Patio, used to work for Greek life at the University of Arizona. When he opened his own restaurant specializing in rolled tacos, or taquitos, in 2017, he quickly found he was selling about 800 each day. While looking for a way to make the rolling process more efficient, he recalled his days on campus, where he often saw engineering students working on their senior projects.

“I thought that bringing a fun project like a taco rolling machine to the senior students at the University of Arizona would be different and fun,” he said. “I’ve seen firsthand what the students are able to create and complete so I never had a doubt that they could do it!”

The students of Team 19042 are developing an automated machine that should be able to coat a tortilla in oil, fill it with stuffing, roll the tortilla, and apply a flour paste – 300 times an hour.

“This project is going to be a game changer for my business,” Otero said. “I’ll be able to cut back on costs and grow at the same time.”

Smoothing Edges

David Sounart is the VP of manufacturing at HF Coors, a Tucson-based ceramics manufacturer and seller. Dave Gilblom, a mentor for the capstone program, is a frequent customer of HF Coors, and the two men have had many talks about ceramics automation. While many parts of the HF Coors factory are automated, Sounart is turning to Team 19051 to extend the capabilities of a particular mechanism.

The existing machine smooths out the edges of round pieces using a stationary spinning sponge, which applies just enough pressure to remove excess clay from the piece as it rotates. However, the factory also produces plenty of pieces that aren’t round.

“We wanted something where we could put non-round shapes, like ovals and rectangles, and have the sponge move to track the edge,” Sounart said. “Right now, we have to do them by hand.”

Sounart is pleased with his team so far. They’ve successfully incorporated his feedback into their work, and they’ve visited the factory several times to get a feel for how the machinery works.

Chilling Out

Dennis Arnold, brewmaster, owner and founder of Barrio Brewing, has long been acquainted with UArizona engineers. Many have worked in his Tucson brewery over the years, and his daughter is a senior in systems engineering.

Arnold designed the chilling system at Barrio himself, making many adjustments along the way. A large part of the process for Team 19055 is to come in and survey the system’s current state. That means measuring every piece of pipe and examining every motor pump and compressor.

“We’ve been such a mom and pop shop, building our own things and seeing what flies,” he said. “With 28 years of adding to a system, you’re never going to have blueprints.”

After the team concludes their initial analysis, they’re tasked with determining the optimal way for the system to run. They will then identify the deficiencies between the ideal set up and the current state. Finally, the team will design a prototype for a more efficient, affordable method.

“This will take us into the 21st century, in a way,” Arnold said.