The DREAMS Lab collaborates with several laboratories and departments throughout Virginia Tech in order to explore the multi-disciplinary research questions and diverse applications of additive manufacturing technologies.
Dr. Williams is the co-director of the Center for Innovation-based Manufacturing (CIbM). The CIbM is a multi-disciplinary center formed to solve current manufacturing issues and help the university commercialize new technologies. The mission of the CIbM is to create a foundation for innovation in manufacturing systems as a means of accelerating the commercial development of innovative technologies and thus transform and advance the country’s manufacturing infrastructure. The innovation-based manufacturing goal is to boost the commercialization potential of basic research that is currently constrained by the lack of adequate processes and systems and provide new tools to improve current processes. Researchers in the DREAMS Lab work within the CIbM to identify industrial opportunities where the process flexibility and product design freedom offered by additive manufacturing technologies can have a transformative impact.
The Virginia Tech Foundry Institute for Research and Education (VT FIRE) is the preeminent academic facility for foundry research and education in the United States. The facility has several furnaces that enable student researchers to pour iron, steel, aluminum and copper/bronze alloys. The DREAMS Lab helps maintain and operate a ZCorp Z510 3D Printer at the facility to enable users to directly fabricate pattern-less molds and cores for sand casting. In addition, the various machines in the DREAMS Lab are used to fabricate patterns for investment casting for the facility. Working with VT FIRE researchers, the DREAMS Lab explores new opportunities for foundry applications for Addtive Manufacturing.
Researchers in the DREAMS Lab are dedicated to improving engineering education. To accomplish this goal, we collaborate with the faculty in Virginia Tech's Department of Engineering Education (in which Dr. Williams has a joint appointment). Specifically, we have collaborated with the toolsLab and Virginia Tech's Engineering Communication Center to explore pedagogical innovations in engineering design education. In addition, we work with researchers in the Center for Human-Computer Interaction to identify opportunities for the integration of technology in educational practice.
Researchers in the DREAMS Lab frequently partner with faculty across the Department of Mechanical Engineering to identify innovative applications of additive manufacturing technology. Examples include: