The manufacturing laboratories are spread out in six main areas in two buildings and house WPI’s Haas Technical Education Center as well as WPI’s Robotics Resource Laboratory, WPI’s Collablab, and several student work spaces. In the Higgins Laboratories the facilities are located in rooms 004, 005, and 006. In the Washburn Shops the facilities are located in rooms 105, 107, and 108. The facilities are operated by an operations manager, and two lab machinists who are assisted by up to 20 undergraduate peer learning assistants (PLAs). Over 1000 WPI students use the facilities each year completing hundreds of individual and group projects. In a typical 7 week term we record over 4000 instances of use in the facilities which are available for student use 24 hours per day 365 days per year.
The WPI Haas Technical Education Center was established with a $400,000 award from the Fleet Asset Management, trustee of the Elizabeth A. Lufkin Trust and Haas Automation, Oxnard, California, and represented in New England by Trident Machine tools, who entrusted WPI with over a quarter million dollars in new machine tools, software and training.
The center is used for both undergraduate teaching and graduate research. The eleven CNC machine tools are used in ME 1800, ME 3820, and ES 3323, as well as other courses. The machine tools facilitate the realization, i.e. fabrication, of parts that students have designed on computers. The machine tools are important for supporting WPI's project based-education. The machine tools are also be used in manufacturing engineering research, as well as to produce apparatus to support research efforts in other fields.
Higgins Machine Shop and Project Laboratory
The machine shop in the Higgins Labs consists of three adjacent areas: the Machine Shop (HL004, 600 sq. ft.), the Project Laboratory (HL005, 1600 sq. ft.), and the SAE Project Lab (HL006, 300 sq. ft.). The Machine Shop contains 2 CNC Machine tools (a Haas Tool Room min and a Haas Tool Room Lathe), as well as a surface grinder, 2 DoAll Mills and a DoAll engine lathe as well as a drill press, 2 band saws and assorted hand tools A machinist manages and supports the machine shop and project activities with the assistance of undergraduate PLAs. The Project Laboratory is used primarily for the conduct of capstone design projects requiring a large work and assembly area, such as the SAE Formula Race Car and other SAE projects. Typically, 12 –15 students are involved with the projects in this laboratory throughout the
In addition to providing space for capstone design projects the project lab also provides space to one of WPI’s US First Robotics teams and supports the Robotics Resource Center, as well as being the home of WPI’s CollabLab. The CollabLab is a student organization that promotes “maker” culture and collaboration at WPI.
The Robotics Laboratory, a 1,915 sq. ft. facility, is located on the first floor of the Washburn Building room 108 is equipped with a variety of industrial robots, machine tools and other equipment. The industrial robots, for which the Robotics Laboratory is named, are run primarily during the laboratory sessions of the Industrial Robotics course (ME4815), and to a lesser extent by undergraduate project groups and graduate researchers. The industrial robots in the laboratory include: one Fanuc LR Mate 200iB, and one Fanuc M-710iC. . The Robotics lab houses four of the five entrusted machine tools that are part of WPI’s Haas Technical Education Center. The Mill Drill Center (MDC) is a permanent entrustment and has duel pallets so a part can be loaded while the machine is cutting. This machine is frequently used in conjunction with the Fanuc LR Mate. The Haas ST30-Y fully automated 4 axis machining center with an automatic bar feeder. Used in conjunction with the Fanuc ----- and the MDC students can create a fully automated production cell. The Haas VM2 is also located in the Robotics Lab are equipped with full 5 axis control systems. We have a Haas fifth axis fixturing system that can be mounted in the VM2.
CNC Teaching Laboratory
The CNC teaching laboratory is located in the Washburn Shops Room 107 and covers 3,140 sq. ft. The mission of the CNC labs is to support the mission of WPI, by creating, discovering, and conveying knowledge at the frontiers of inquiry in CNC machining and education, as well as linking that new knowledge to applications; help students achieve self sufficiency in the use of CNC tools and technologies, so they can conceive, design, and create their own CNC machined parts for their projects.
The vision of the CNC labs is to be the premier laboratory for CNC
engineering education and research (applied and fundamental) in the world.
In the teaching laboratory we have one Universal Laser Systems VLS60 Laser Cutter, one Makerbot Replicator 2X, 3 Haas MiniMills and 2 Haas SL10s, 3 band saws, two drill presses, a sheet metal shear and bending break as well as assorted hand tools. Attached to each of the MiniMills and SL10s are computer workstations equipped with all of the design and programming software supported on campus and with our instructional tools that have been developed to allow students to train each other.
In addition to the computers located at each of the CNC machine tools in the CNC teaching laboratory and robotics laboratories the facility has two computer classroom spaces one located in 107 with the other in 105. Each of the classroom spaces can be configured to contain between 8 and 12 computer workstations. Each space also has, a conference table, whiteboards, and a ceiling mounted projector that each computer in the space can send its signal to when the spaces are used for project group meetings.
Students working on any of the computer workstations in the facilities have access to the design software packages supported on campus as well as our training materials and several Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software packages including Esprit, MasterCam, and SurfCam.