MSAM researchers win SME’s 2019 Digital Manufacturing Challenge

MSAM researchers win SME’s 2019 Digital Manufacturing Challenge

Gitanjali Shanbhag and Lisa Brock, graduate students with Waterloo’s Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (MSAM) laboratory, won the 3D Digital Manufacturing Challenge 2019 at the RAPID + TCT event for their redesign of a heat sink for cooling central processing units (CPUs) in electronic devices.

The award is sponsored by the Society for Manufacturing Engineers (SME). Winners Gitanjali Shanbhag and Lisa Brock have written an article for SME that details their award-winning and innovative design. A brief excerpt is provided:

Our project/submission was focused on the redesign of a heat sink for cooling central processing units (CPUs) to fit in with the competition theme of additive manufacturing for energy transfer and heat exchange. We designed a heat sink that featured an organic, branched fin design revolving around a circular base that was envisioned to be situated on top of the CPU. It was designed to be part of an assembly with a fan mounted above the heat sink to facilitate forced convection, making it an active heat sink system.

The small, lightweight design ensured efficient thermal dissipation and a small environmental footprint. The idea was to manufacture this heat sink with binder jetting DDM technology since it promotes low material waste by the virtue of reusing any unused powder. The material of choice for this heat sink was copper because of its stellar thermal properties.

Socially, the new heat sink design could improve global connectivity by providing efficient thermal management for servers and cores, ultimately reducing their energy footprint. This would have a large impact on high-performance computing industries and may help provide the computational resources needed for innovation. The proposed organic fin design for heat sinks could also be scaled up for other heat sink applications, apart from CPUs. The competition was judged on how well we justified choices of DDM processes and materials to be used, the social and environmental impact analysis, and cost-benefit analysis for using DDM.

The full article is available here:

Ontario premier visits Waterloo campus

This story was first published by University of Waterloo.

Ontario premier visits Waterloo campus

During his visit to Waterloo region last Friday, Premier Doug Ford came to campus to see Professor Michael Worswick’s Waterloo Forming and Crash Lab and experience first hand one of the largest academic laboratories for such research. Worswick is co-Principal Investigator for the $35M* Ontario Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (OAMC), a joint initiative between Waterloo, McMaster and Western.

Funded by the province of Ontario, the OAMC works with industry partners across a diverse range of markets to accelerate innovation and facilitate industry access to professional research staff, world-class equipment and large-scale infrastructure, enabling industry-focused R&D on rapid project timelines.

Minister Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities was also in attendance.

*The original Waterloo story references $46.5M, which is in error.

Vital signs can now be monitored using radar

This story was first published by University of Waterloo.

“We take the whole complex process and make it completely wireless. And instead of a clinic, it could be done in the comfort of your own bed and run daily for continuous monitoring.”

– Dr. George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo and Research Scientist at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging

A radar system developed at the University of Waterloo can wirelessly monitor the vital signs of patients, eliminating the need to hook them up to any machines.

Housed in a device smaller than a cellphone, the new technology records heart and breathing rates using sensitive radar waves that are analyzed by sophisticated algorithms embedded in an onboard digital signal processing unit.


Photo of radar box next to a smart phone
Photo of radar box next to a smartphone

Researchers developed the system to monitor sleep apnea patients by detecting subtle chest movements instead of connecting them to equipment in labs via numerous cumbersome wires.

“We take the whole complex process and make it completely wireless,” said George Shaker, an engineering professor at Waterloo. “And instead of a clinic, it could be done in the comfort of your own bed and run daily for continuous monitoring.”

In the study, the radar unit was mounted to the ceiling over the bed of more than 50 volunteers as they slept normally in a model long-term care apartment.

The system, which collects and analyzes data from radar waves that are reflected back to the unit from the bodies of patients, achieved results over 90 per cent as accurate as standard hard-wired equipment.

“This is the first time radar has been used for heart sensing with this degree of accuracy and in such an uncontrolled environment,” said Mostafa Alizadeh, a research associate who led the study. “Our subjects slept unobstructed, in any position, for up to eight hours.”

Researchers are also exploring use of the technology to monitor activity levels and falls by residents of long-term care homes, and in hospitals for routine monitoring of heart and breathing rates of all kinds of patients.

Advantages of the system for apnea monitoring include complete privacy since no cameras are used, much improved comfort and potential use in homes rather than special sleep clinics.

“With traditional systems involving wires and appointments booked weeks in advance, you can’t sleep as you normally do in your own bed at home, making the common sleep study an unpleasant experience,” said Shaker, a cross-appointed professor of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical and mechatronics engineering.

In addition to sleep apnea, which involves breathing that repeatedly stops and starts, the system can monitor conditions such as periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome and seizures.

Alizadeh and Shaker collaborated with Waterloo professors Plinio Pelegrini Morita and Safeddin Safavi-Naeini, and Joao Carlos Martins de Almeida, a professor at the University of Campinas in Brazil.

A paper on their work, Remote monitoring of human vital signs using mm-wave FMCW radar, appears in the journal IEEE Access.


Learn more about the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging at

CAIRS anechoic chamber

C-COM granted 2nd patent for phased array antenna

This story was first published by C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.

“This patent provides further recognition for the quality of innovation being carried out by the University of Waterloo’s research team.”

– Leslie Klein, President and CEO of C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.

Ka-band phased array prototype

OTTAWA, May 6, 2019C-COM Satellite Systems Inc. (TSXV: CMI), the world’s leading provider of commercial grade auto-acquire mobile satellite antenna systems, announced today that it has been granted US patent No.10,211,527 for its invention of a phased array antenna calibration method and apparatus.

This is the second patent C-COM has been granted in the last year and comes as a result of its ongoing research and development into a novel electronically steerable Ka-band phased array antenna. A unique process for calibration of a phased array antenna is used to adjust internal phase shifters and amplifiers, making it possible to recalibrate the antenna on-the-fly, potentially mitigating service interruptions.


The project is being developed in partnership with the University of Waterloo under the guidance of Dr. Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini, director of the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS) and with the assistance from the Ontario Centers for Excellence (OCE) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).“This new calibration technique will be integrated into our current active and fully modular phased-array technology,” said Dr. Safieddin Safavi-Naeini, a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo. “In addition, our research team is using this new technology as an integral part of its first fully passive phased array antenna made of 4X4 intelligent modules. It opens the way to low-cost high performance electronically steerable mobile antennas for both commercial and personal device applications, which are now under development in our Centre,” Safavi-Naeini continued.

“This innovative method will allow for a rapid antenna calibration in the field, thus eliminating the costly return of the product to the manufacturer,” said Bilal Awada, Chief Technology Officer at C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.

“This patent provides further recognition for the quality of innovation being carried out by the University of Waterloo’s research team,” said Leslie Klein, President and CEO of C-COM Satellite Systems Inc. “This advanced design, which will be incorporated into the next generation phased array antennas, should significantly increase their reliability and serviceability,” Klein added.

About C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.

C-COM Satellite Systems Inc. logo

C-COM Satellite Systems Inc. is a pioneer and world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of mobile satellite-based antenna systems for the delivery of Broadband Internet to any location via Satellite. C-COM has developed a proprietary, one-button, auto-acquisition controller technology for rapid antenna pointing to a geostationary satellite with just the press of a button, enabling high-speed Internet connectivity where terrestrial markets are overloaded or simply don’t exist. The company has sold approximately 8,000 systems to customers in over 100 countries providing service to a wide range of vertical markets such as Oil & Gas Exploration, Military Communications, Disaster Management, SNG, Emergency Communications, Cellular Backhaul, Telemedicine, Mobile Banking, and others. The Company’s iNetVu® brand is synonymous with high quality, reliability and cost-effectiveness.

In partnership with a renowned research team at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS), C-COM has been developing a next generation Ka-band flat panel antenna based on advanced phased array technology for enabling high-throughput mobility applications over satellite: land, airborne and maritime. More information is available at:

iNetVu® is a registered trademark of C-COM Satellite Systems Inc.

Highlights: AMC Showcase - April 23, 2019 at University of Waterloo

Thank you!

From all of us at AMC, we sincerely thank everyone who made it out to our inaugural Showcase on April 23, 2019 at University of Waterloo. We’re excited to report that the event was a huge success, with over 150 attendees and several great industrial project opportunities already reported.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback. The survey is now closed. Your responses will contribute to even greater success at future events.

Missed out on the survey? We welcome additional feedback by phone (519-888-4567 ext. 37687) or by email.

Unable to attend? We’re sorry to have missed you! For those who weren’t able to join us, we encourage you to review the presentation materials and contact information below.

Dean of Engineering Pearl Sullivan welcomes the Showcase attendees.


AMC thanks Executive Director Dr. Michael Worswick, Dean of Engineering Dr. Pearl Sullvian and Managing Director of AMC at Waterloo Harold Godwin for getting the day off to a great start with informative opening remarks.

An extra thank you to David Fransen of Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) and Craig McClelland of the Federal Economic Development Agency (FedDev) for highlighting other funding and partnership opportunities for Ontario manufacturers.

We are pleased to provide copies of the agenda, opening remarks and breakout session presentations:

Agenda for AMC Showcase April 23, 2019

Opening Remarks: AMC Overview, NGen, FedDev

Breakout Session: Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (MSAM) Laboratory

Breakout Session: Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS)

Breakout Session: WatCAR Manufacturing

Breakout Session: RoboHub (by request only due to large file size)

To learn more about each research group, please visit their respective home pages:

We also invite you to view the laboratory tour videos for the four research groups.

Work with Us

AMC is a provincially sponsored initiative that facilitates industry access to world-class facilities and research expertise.

Since AMC began in 2017, over 250 industry partners have partnered with Waterloo researchers on more than 100 projects.

The industry-focused research at Waterloo is undertaken by over 300 Highly Qualified People (HQP) in our four main areas. This breadth of expertise enables full collaboration with industry, scalability for projects of all sizes, with the confidentiality and rapid turnaround required by industry.

Get your project started with AMC today! AMC Engagement Information

Contact us today to learn more.

Keep in Touch

Join our mailing list and follow us on twitter @Ontario_AMC to learn about upcoming events, industry Success Stories and more.

AMC Showcase Gallery

MSAM partners with Siemens to accelerate industrial additive manufacturing

Project Summary

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is revolutionizing manufacturing. While design and prototyping are common in fields such as medical, automotive, energy and aerospace, the full-scale manufacturing and distribution of AM parts is not yet reality due in part to complex quality control. The Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing lab (MSAM) and Siemens Canada Limited (Siemens) partnered to create an innovative statistical tool that optimizes the process parameters of laser powder-bed fusion (LPBF), a class of metal AM process. The tool has the potential to benefit industrial suppliers and customers across the supply chain through improved and streamlined process optimization as well as cost savings. This project represents a significant research success and a great move toward realizing the full industrial potential of AM.

“Siemens welcomed the opportunity of working with the University of Waterloo based on the cutting-edge equipment available at MSAM. We have been very happy with the projects so far and anticipate this partnership will lead to future progress. “

– Dr. Ali Bonakdar, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Lead, Siemens Canada Limited


Siemens Canada Limited (Siemens) has been in operation for over 100 years, with over 4,500 employees in 39 offices and 14 production facilities across Canada. Siemens delivers innovative solutions for sustainable energy, intelligent infrastructure, finance, information technology, healthcare and manufacturing. In 2017, Siemens launched a collaborative AM Network to accelerate adoption of AM for design and production. Siemens provides both cash and in-kind support to MSAM in their highly productive relationship.

“Siemens is a pioneer of AM. Through this multi-faceted collaborative project, MSAM worked closely with a professional team of engineers to achieve highly innovative solutions for hurdles hindering the adoption of AM. The researchers involved have gained substantial experience in dealing with such a well-known companies. “

– Dr. Ehsan Toyserkani, Research Director, MSAM, University of Waterloo


Industrial AM applications include rapid prototyping, full-scale and spare part production, and rapid repair of existing components. As a digitized and customizable process, AM saves time and resources while increasing flexibility and scalability.
Despite the apparent advantages, full-scale deployment of AM to high-value components has been slow. Quality control is a major obstacle when the accuracy and consistency of critical properties (e.g., density, smoothness, mechanical strength, fatigue life etc.) are difficult to predict and control, particularly for metal AM where workflows comprise over 100 process parameters.
MSAM approached Siemens to discuss collaborative opportunities based on recent funding. This project began in July 2017 and focused on metal AM using LPBF. The challenge was to develop a commercially-viable approach to optimizing process parameters (e.g., laser power, printing speed, etc.).


Researchers developed a three-part statistical approach that optimized more than 20 LBPF parameters:

  1. Determination of the most significant process parameters
  2. Determination of the optimal input values to give reliable output
  3. Validation of the approach

R&D was completed in only twelve months, and the resulting tool can be applied to LPBF applications using any powdered metal material source.
MSAM and Siemens have filed the patent to protect the methodologies and procedures. Representatives from Siemens global offices provided input throughout the collaborative process.

Additively manufactured test artifacts


The statistical tool provides an estimated three-fold reduction in the number of printed test pieces required for understanding or optimization of printing parameters. This corresponds to an increase in part reliability, and saves costs by reducing time, effort, energy and materials.

Siemens plans to commercialize the tool in 2019 and anticipates the creation of engineering and/or sales positions.


The initial objective was optimization of density, hardness and surface roughness. Standard cube test pieces and artifacts were used for the process development and engine component prototypes were used for validation. Subsequent applications could use this approach to fine-tune the input parameters for other properties of interest (e.g., fatigue life or strength), and/or consider additional parts and materials.

AM opportunities are growing, and workflow optimization increases efficiency, customization and quality, translating to faster time-to-market and business growth.

Siemens will license and commercialize the workflow optimization tool as a service offered to their customers who rely on high quality AM part production.

UWaterloo's collaborative research with ODG brings growth and new technology

Project Summary

The Precision Controls Laboratory at the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo), part of WatCAR Manufacturing, brings Industry 4.0 to life in conquering the complexity of gear manufacturing with an automated, virtual simulation tool that uses intelligent algorithms to optimize the machining of gears. UWaterloo developed virtual modelling software as a result of collaborative research with Ontario Drive & Gear (ODG) to increase production efficiency, improve gear quality, and reduce production costs, by eliminating much of the manual effort involved with traditional process development and quality control.

Gear examples from ODG.

“The impact of our work with the Precision Controls Laboratory at UWaterloo has significantly increased productivity and decreased costs by enhancing the capabilities of ODG engineers.”

– Liam Tiernan, General Manager and Vice President, Gear Division, Ontario Drive & Gear


Ontario Drive & GearFounded in 1962, ODG operates from three facilities in New Hamburg, Ontario with 150,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. ODG designs, manufactures, assembles and tests over 1,000 unique gear and transmission products. Their diverse client base includes industrial, military, forestry, oil & gas, agricultural, automotive, and more. ODG has reported measurable productivity improvements and business growth as a direct result of collaboration with UW researchers.


The traditional approach to process development and quality control in gear manufacturing relies on technician experience, trial and error, and practical recommendations. These methods are expensive, tedious, and can also result in sub-optimal process parameters, wasted machine time and materials, or sometimes damage to tooling.

To overcome this challenge, UWaterloo researchers developed a virtual simulation of the physics of gear manufacturing, through in-depth mathematical analysis and intelligent algorithms, to represent the complex gear cutting mechanics, dynamic interactions between the CNC control system, the tooling and the workpiece. This enables process metrics and quality prediction to be achieved for ‘virtually machined’ gears.


A unique virtual machining program was developed and licensed by UWaterloo as a result of this collaborative research. The program requires input of dimensions, materials, tooling, machine/process parameters to employ a holistic approach to modelling the kinematics and dynamics of gear shaping. Process simulation and quality control in a virtual environment enables numerous iterations to optimize performance without wasting machine time and materials.

The software generates data and associated graphics that illustrate flaws and opportunities for optimization, and the integrated metrology allows the majority of the quality control to occur in a virtual simulation, thereby reducing process development time and cost.

In this successful technology transfer, UWaterloo researchers deployed the software at ODG, trained engineers and process developers on-site, and offer continued training support for current applications and future collaborative research.


ODG engineers and process developers were trained on-site by the UWaterloo team, resulting in successful technology transfer to fill the gap between scientific research and productivity on the shop floor.

ODG reported up to 24% production improvement for high-volume gear production for major Canadian customers, including a forestry equipment producer and a Tier 1 automotive supplier.

The reduction in production cycle times freed up machine capacity to grow the existing business and develop new customer relationships. This business growth has translated to a proportionate increase in shifts and hiring new manufacturing, quality control and support staff.


UWaterloo and ODG continue to collaborate on optimizing a broad suite of gear manufacturing operations (e.g., hobbing and power skiving), which is expected to result in additional cost savings, production efficiencies, improved part performance and business growth.

UWaterloo retains the software licensing and is eager to expand to new industry partners.