Carnegie Mellon University
April 28, 2019

Manufacturing Futures Initiative Leads Digital Transformation

By Emily Durham

Emily Durham
  • College of Engineering
  • 412-268-2406

On April 29, the Manufacturing Futures Initiative (MFI) will host the inaugural Manufacturing Futures Forum at Carnegie Mellon University. The forum, which is entitled "Leading the Digital Transformation," will highlight the groundbreaking research, development and workforce training that is leading the digital transformation of manufacturing taking place across the southwest Pennsylvania region, the nation, and the world.

This invitation-only event will feature a keynote presentation by Ray Betler, who is president and CEO of Wabtec Corporation, an accomplished expert in the transportation industry, and a Carnegie Mellon alumnus. Wabtec Corporation, which is headquartered in the Pittsburgh region, recently completed a merger with GE Transportation to become the largest engineering/manufacturing supply company in the worldwide rail industry.

Manufacturing Futures Initiative Projects

Distributed image

Distributed learning for large-scale multi-robot path planning

By building a hybrid environment consisting of numerous simulated and physical robots, this project will enable large-scale automation of existing factories and warehouses.

For more information, visit

Training image

Training in additve manufacturing using entertainment and tutoring technologies

It is impractical for more than three students and an instructor to use an additive manufacturing machine at a given time. Interactive systems that simulate the operation of additive manufacturing machines can be used to enable virtual training of large numbers of students and users.

For more information, visit

Robotic arm

Robotic de-powdering for additive manufacturing

Conventionally, powders used during additive manufacturing processes need to be manually removed after builds, at risk to human technicians. These processes can be made safer, cheaper, and more time-efficient by using robots equipped with vision sensors and cleaning actuators.

For more information, visit

Internet of Things Illustration

Precise profiling and protection for Internet of Things in manufacturing

Internet of Things (IoT) devices in manufacturing, such as 3D printers, robotic arms, inspection robots, and air purifiers, are attractive targets for cyber attackers. This project aims to provide effective protection for IoT devices in manufacturing.

For more information, visit

3D printing

Transforming additive manufacturing of polymers using freeform revisible embedding 3D printing

Only a very limited set of high-performance polymers can be used in current additive manufacturing approaches. By creating a platform technology based on CMU’s newly developed freeform revisible embedding 3D printing (FRE-3DP) process, this research will enable a transformative advance in polymers additive manufacturing.

For more information, visit

Illustration of a virtual space

Data-driven fault detection and prediction in additive manufacturing

While automation dramatically boosts productivity, precision, and efficiency in manufacturing, a shortcoming is that unforeseen faults in the system are difficult to diagnose. By using a reinforcement learning framework, researchers can take a global view of the operations of a manufacturing plant to efficiently diagnose system faults.

For more information, visit


Profile-3D-printing for thermally tuned concrete panels

There is an urgent need to develop new additive manufacturing material delivery systems that can combine multi-material systems, such as concrete with steel reinforcement, within a single deposition flow. Through post-processing based on robotic tooling, researchers can generate topologically complex shapes optimized for improved building energy performance.

For more information, visit

Hand holding soft robotic material

HEALER: Computationally guided additive manufacturing of self-healing robotic materials

The ability to self-heal is emerging as a highly desired property in soft robotics, artificial muscles, and synthetic skins, among other research areas. Additive manufacturing of elastomeric soft robotic materials with electrically-actuating compartments can allow material to be dismembered and reattached, and the material will self-heal with complete functional recovery.

For more information, visit

The event also will include interactive panels with experts from industry, government, national organizations and academia. These panels will address the Future of Additive Manufacturing, AI and Robotics for Manufacturing, and Future of Work for Manufacturing. The event will culminate with a research showcase featuring technology and policy research projects that are leading the revitalization of American manufacturing in the global marketplace.

"We are uniquely situated to help the Pittsburgh region fulfill its potential as a manufacturing hub of the future," said Gary Fedder, faculty director of MFI and founding president of the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM). "By bringing corporate partners, regional startups, and workforce development leaders together for this one-day event, MFI will show how innovation in our areas of expertise will enable the future of manufacturing."

MFI is a leader in manufacturing innovation, with its unique culture of advanced collaboration driving both multidisciplinary manufacturing research inside the university and robust partnerships with industry, nonprofits, and government. Launched through a generous donation from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, MFI's highly collaborative advanced manufacturing research ecosystem is catalyzing the convergence of research and development in manufacturing technologies, machine intelligence and human values.

Along with the ARM, MFI's dedication to revolutionizing manufacturing at all levels is evidenced by its recent investment in the Hazelwood Green Mill 19 facility. This cutting-edge facility is being constructed entirely within the enormous skeleton of the historic Pittsburgh steel mill known as Mill 19, located on the Hazelwood Green development site.

"MFI and ARM are leveraging our complementary strengths to anchor Mill 19 as a central hub for advanced collaboration in the manufacturing space," said Sandra DeVincent Wolf, executive director of MFI and Carnegie Mellon's NextManufacturing Center, which also will have a strong presence in the Mill 19 facility. "The Mill 19 location will act as a symbol of and provide a physical location for MFI's and ARM's commitment to collaboration and workforce development."