Wayne State University

Wayne State receives $1.7 million grant to advance virtually guided weldability qualification

DETROIT – Wayne State University has received a $1.7 million grant from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) — an institute of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) — for a project that will advance Resistance Spot Welding (RSW) weldability qualification environments. The project, VRWP: Virtually Guided RSW Weldability Prediction, will allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers to rapidly converge to feasible welded assembly designs during the early stages of new product development.

According to Kyoung-Yun Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of industrial and systems engineering and site director of the NSF Center for e-Design at Wayne State University, system integrators and OEMs working with products that have metallic structures currently rely on material suppliers and testing service companies to conduct physical testing of materials for new welded assembly designs. Without timely delivery of test results, the optimal selection of new materials, processes, and related design decisions is hindered.

“When new materials or combinations of materials are considered for an assembly, industry often requires new physical tests or numerical simulations such as finite element analysis,” said Kim. “Data-driven weldability prediction will improve product design efficiency, but is underutilized because of existing data inconsistences. Resistance spot-welding processes and parameters are complex due to coating conditions and surface roughness and give rise to significant data inconsistences, a well-known reliability issue.”

The Wayne State team is partnering with Ford Motor Company to develop a reliable RSW weldability prediction tool.  The end result will be a web-based RSW weldability prediction tool that will improve design and engineering efficiency.

“This prediction tool will ultimately improve product quality through the utilization of advanced materials, allow users to rapidly assess weldment feasibility, and reduce the amount of physical testing required for new material candidates,” said Kim. “In addition, communication between OEMs and suppliers will be enhanced because of the standardization of RSW test data and material.”

The proof of concept system for the RSW weldability qualification, called Virtually Guided RSW Weldability Prediction (VRWP), will initially be applied for qualification of automotive body structure joining/welding at Ford Motor Company.

The co-principal investigators of this project from Wayne State University are Shiyong Lu​, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science; Jeremy L. Rickli, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering​; Xin Wu, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Qingyu Yang, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering​.

The project number for this grant is 15-07-04.

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About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.