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Concordia prof wins 2021 SME Geoff Boothroyd Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award

Tsz-Ho Kwok’s research to bridge design and manufacturing processes recognized by American manufacturing industry
April 28, 2021
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By Elena Parial

Portrait of Tsz-Ho Kwok Tsz-Ho Kwok: "My dream is to democratize manufacturing technology in mass-customization to open access to all people needing customization and personalization through a seamless design and manufacturing process."

American-based SME, a non-profit association that promotes and supports the manufacturing industry, has awarded its 2021 Geoff Boothroyd Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award to Concordia’s Tsz-Ho Kwok.

Kwok is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering at the university’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. He is one of fourteen global honourees under 35 years of age recognized by SME for exceptional contributions and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry.

"My dream is to democratize manufacturing technology in mass-customization to open access to all people needing customization and personalization through a seamless design and manufacturing process," says Kwok. “This yields high-efficiency, low-cost, precision manufacturing.”

Turning heads

The United States comes second only to China in global manufacturing output. To be acknowledged by the American manufacturing industry and his peers highlights Kwok’s innovative approach to advancing computer-aided design and manufacturing. This peaked interest can lead to industry investment in Kwok’s research, which is quite a coup so early in an engineer’s career.

His latest published research revolves around origami.

photo of swan origami that transforms a flat sheet of paper into a 3d object “Origami starts with a simple sheet of paper that is two-dimensional, and by simply folding it you achieve a three-dimensional figure.”

“Origami starts with a simple sheet of paper that is two-dimensional, and by simply folding it you achieve a three-dimensional figure,” Kwok explains. “Recreating this 3D figure through a manufacturing process like 3D printing comes with imperfections. You notice them particularly in the edges where you trade the smooth edge of a sheet of paper for a ragged staircase effect, as you would find in a pixelated image.”

To maximize precision and achieve a more accurate replica, Kwok turned to smart materials. Most materials expand under heat, so they can be structured in a way that a designed 3D shape can be obtained when heat is applied. This level of control allows a manufacturer to dictate changes in the material, define what the trigger is and achieve a precise final shape. In its infancy, the research behind this approach speaks to Concordia’s leadership in the field of Industry 4.0, and represents the next generation of manufacturing.

The future is custom

Accessibility is what drives Kwok’s interest in mass customization and personalization. Through his research, he is taking steps to develop processes and platforms where manufactured items become more cost-efficient and broadly available.

“Everyone dreads the cost of getting braces,” he says. “They are costly because they are custom-made by specialized medical doctors. Imagine a world where braces can be digitally designed within minutes by users worldwide and manufactured locally for a fraction of that cost.”

 

Learn more about Concordia’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering.



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