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Navigating the Process Universe

Dr Hugh Shercliff | University of Cambridge, UK

Navigating the Process Universe

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Teaching manufacturing to students in engineering, design or materials science presents particular challenges. The subject is encyclopaedic, with unlimited combinations of material/process/design scenarios; and it is full of technical jargon, which students seem to find increasingly difficult to recall and use rigorously. But the educational objective is not for students to know everything, but rather to be confident about deciding what probably matters in a given, unfamiliar situation in design and manufacturing - and thus what to go and find out. This talk describes some new ideas about teaching manufacturing and design. It is proposed that this task is facilitated by providing structured thinking, and using visual learning tools - these should help students recall or infer the key factors at work in determining a successful outcome when a design, material and process are brought together. The target thought process is thus: (i) what are the dominant design issues for the material-processing principle under consideration? (ii) what is the underlying material physics controlling the key behaviour (fluid flow, heat flow, phase transformations etc)? (iii) what parameters of the material, process and design govern the relevant physics, and how does the outcome depend on their interaction? (iv) what is "best practice" in managing these interactions and hence the outcome? (v) what technical "tricks" are there in material composition, process operation or design detail? A unifying framework is emerging that potentially achieves the following: (a) it works in engineering, industrial design and materials science; (b) it works for conventional lecture courses and design projects, and for teaching using product disassembly; (c) it is consistent with the existing CES Process Universe, but points to a new approach to handling manufacturing processes within the software. The audience is invited to test these claims, and to participate in refining the approach.