Northern Illinois University

Macro/Micro Manufacturing Laboratory


  • Reliance Tool and Manufacturing
  • Gateway Materials Technology
  • University of Wisconsin

Ceramic Laser-Assisted Machining (CLAM)


Maximize the volume of material that can be removed in the shortest period of time without damaging a ceramic work piece.


Feasibility academic work used CO2 lasers to machine laboratory-sized samples with single-point cutting tools. This project will address more complex machining operations using more energy-efficient lasers with one or more optical fibers synchronized with the cutting tool motion in the work zone.


Laser-assisted machining ceramics can produce shapes not possible by grinding or significantly reduce time to grind parts, both of which save money.


  • Procure maching center
  • Procure laser system
  • Integrate machining center and laser system
  • Ceramic materials baseline
  • Test effectiveness of laser-assisted machining
  • Documentation and reporting

Commercialization/Next Steps

The unique properties of advanced engineered ceramics can be used to increase engine efficiency, lower pollution, and improve the quality of life in medical applications.


  • Working with industrial partners to specify and procure a CNC machining center and a laser system for installation and integration.
  • Assemble a laboratory lathe to conduct range-finding trials before attempting pilot scale trials.
  • Work with engineered ceramic producers to evaluate near-term applications and partners.