05 Jul 2019 |
Research article |
Materials & Manufacturing
Supporting Industry 4.0 while Respecting the Environment
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Lucas Hof, a Montrealer for the past five years and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering for the last few months, specializes in advanced manufacturing to support Industry 4.0. His area of research: designing mass production customized processes for high-precision parts using non-traditional materials … and at the lowest possible price. His challenge: achieving his goal while minimizing negative impacts on the environment.
Industry in general (smart phone manufacturers, biomedical industry, aeronautics, etc.) strives to meet consumer demand for mass-produced customized goods at lower cost. Professor Hof is presently working on new processes, exploring the possibilities of additive manufacturing, hybrid technologies, etc.
Another step: the newly appointed professor wishes to “develop innovative ‘remanufacturing’ processes based on digital technologies (Industry 4.0) within the concept of a circular economy.” He wants to reuse recycled parts to produce high-precision products with a special focus on hard-to-machine materials such as glass. His goal is ecological, of course, but also economical since the use of recycled parts allows the industry to reduce costs. “We have no choice but to take the demand for customization into account, but I feel we have to minimize the impact on the environment,” he says.
Passionate about Applied Science
After graduating from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Lucas Hof completed his PhD at Concordia University, with Professor Rolf Wuthrich’s group, where he was involved in electrochemical machining technology from co-development to industrial deployment, in collaboration with the Swiss company Posalux. His path also took him to Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.
Professor Hof also has a stint in the entrepreneurial world to his credit. After working for a non-profit organization, he co-founded and directed a manufacturing company that designed and developed interactive toys adapted for the disabled and the elderly.
The reason he decided to return to research after several years in business was that he “loves technology, likes to develop, innovate and contribute to help improving the world,” he says.
Professor Hof has over five years of teaching experience, namely at Concordia University. He chose this career because it allows him more independence. He wanted to join ÉTS because “this University is a bridge between academia and industry,” similar to his own career, he says. He will teach ÉTS students the basics of Industry 4.0, particularly advanced manufacturing technologies.
He has led several projects with manufacturing companies, particularly in the aerospace and rapid prototyping sector and wishes for as many fruitful collaborations with ÉTS.