MAE 517 Advanced Precision Manufacturing for Products, Systems & Processes

This is a graduate level course designed for graduate students and undergraduate seniors. This course examines precision issues for products, manufacturing machines, processes, and instruments. Modern manufacturing technologies are distinct in their multifarious nature in product sizes, materials, energy forms, theories, and information types; however, the key to their success relies on the management of precision. This course discusses issues critical to both existing precision manufacturing and future sub-micron/nano technology. Important topics include fundamental mechanical accuracies; manufacturing systems and processes; geometric dimensioning and tolerancing; process planning, tolerance charts, and statistical process control; principles of accuracy, repeatability, and resolution; error assessment and calibration; error budget; reversal principles; joint design and stiffness consideration; precision sensing and control; precision laser material processing. 3 credit hours.


• Prerequisite

Undergraduate courses in manufacturing (MAE496) or engineering design (MAE415) , equivalent, or consent of instructor

• Course Objectives

The goals of this course are to provide students in-depth knowledge related to precision manufacturing by focusing on the precision aspects of products, machines, processes, and process management.  This focus on precision also provides a coherent treatment to unify products, machines, processes, and process management as one close-knit field. As a result, students, after completing this course, will have a systematic view of modern manufacturing and the skills to address the precision related problems for advancing productivity and quality. 

• Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a skill to apply basic principles related to fundamental mechanical accuracy.
  • Interpret critical errors in precision of products, machines, and processes
  • Interpret geometric dimensioning and tolerancing in mechanical drawings
  • Identify key components which constitute a precision machine tool
  • Conduct error budget analysis with correct mathematical treatments
  • Analyze data to maintain product quality
  • Calibrate machines with correct precision principles
  • Identify technologies critical to next-generation precision designs based on literature reviews and actual test data.
  • Be able to apply laser material processing for manufacturing
  • have the ability to read journal papers related to precision manufacturing
  • Be able to relate the course materials to daily experience of living, in particular those related to precision performance, such as vehicle alignment, wood work, etc.

• Course Outline

Tentative course outline:

  1. Needs for Precision
  2. Fundamentals of Mechanical Accuracy
  3. Manufacturing Processes and Machines
  4. Process Capability and Statistical Process Control
  5. Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing
  6. Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing;
  7. Feature Measurement and Inspection
  8. Computer-Aided Tolerancing
  9. Computer-Aided Tolerancing
  10. Assessment of Errors - Homogeneous Transformation Matrix
  11. Assessment of Errors - Error Budget
  12. Assessment of Errors of Precision Machines - Reversal Principles
  13. Assessment of Errors of Precision Machines - Calibration Principles
  14. Mapping Geometric and Thermal Errors in Machine Tools
  15. Mapping Geometric and Thermal Errors in Machine Tools
  16. Machine Tool Structural Materials
  17. Force Flow Analysis and Structure Design
  18. Joint and Fixture Design
  19. Kinematic Coupling Design
  20. Machine Tool Spindle and Tool Holder Design
  21. Measurement (grounding and shielding, amplification, and D/A conversion) and Control Basics
  22. Non-Optical and Optical Sensors
  23. Non-Optical and Optical Sensors
  24. Non-Optical and Optical Sensors
  25. Introduction to laser technology
  26. Precision laser material processing
  27. Precision laser material processing
  28. Case Study: Gaging, inspection, and modeling of round features
  29. Modern gadget manufacturing

• Course Requirements

Homework  assignments: 20%

For on-campus students, homework assignments should be submitted in the beginning of the class on the scheduled due day, collected either by the instructor or the studio.  

For off-campus students, homework assignments can be submitted electronically to before 12:00 PM on the scheduled due day. Make sure that the cover page contains the course number, instructor’s name, number of the assignment, the date the video is viewed, and the corresponding due date.

Late homework is NOT accepted.

Examinations: One midterm exams (25%), one term report (25%) and a Final Exam (30%.)

Software Requirement: Access to standard engineering software (MATLAB, Excel, etc.) MATLAB is accessible through the Virtual Computing Lab.

• Textbook, Course Notes, and References

No required textbook.  Course notes will be provided as computer files for download.

Students can acquire the following references (these are not mandatory):

P.K. Wright, 2001, 21st Century Manufacturing, Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-095601-5

A.H. Slocum, 1992, Precision Machine Design, Society of Manufacturing Engineering, call SME at
1-800-733-4763, referring to book code: 2597 or email them at

W.R. Moore, 1989, Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy, The Moore Special Tool Company, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-127307

• Computer and Internet Requirements

NCSU and Engineering Online have recommended minimum computer specifications. For details, click here.

• Instructor

Dr. Jay F. Tu, Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
911 Oval Drive
Engineering Building III (Eb3) 4170
Campus Box 7910
NCSU Campus
Raleigh, NC 27695

Fax: 919-515-7968
Web Site: