Manufacturing Innovation and Neural Interface (MINI) Lab

Lei Chen, Ph.D.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Welcome to the Manufacturing Innovation and Neural Interface (MINI) Lab!

We are located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and led by Dr. Lei Chen.

The MINI Lab conducts experimental and modelling work to generate fundamental understandings of manufacturing processes. The research includes but is not limited to innovative experimental monitoring sensors and methods, physics-based numerical modelling, data-based modelling and analysis, and error source analysis and identification of manufacturing processes. Through collaborations with manufacturing industry, healthcare providers, as well as neuroscientists, we aim to implement our manufacturing expertise into broad applications in both industry and healthcare.

Our research interests could be grouped into three main areas: advanced manufacturing processes, brain-machine interface, and biomedical manufacturing. Please see further details in the Research Page.

If you are interested in joining us, please refer to the Available Positions Page for more information.

For questions regarding our research as well as collaboration requests, please feel free to contact Dr. Lei Chen at

Lab News

01/2023 John Barron officially joined the MINI Lab as a Ph.D. student. Welcome!

2022 Archive

12/2022 We had a fantastic lab Hot Pot dinner at Spring Shabu-Shabu. It's also a farewell for Brian Ung, who graduated with his B.S. Best of luck Brian and you will be missed!

12/2022 A MECH capstone team under Dr. Chen's supervision has finished their project working on "Machine-based Tip Preparation and Insertion of Carbon Fiber Microelectrode Bundles".

11/2022 Our lab renovation project at FAA-207 has been kicked off finally. Look forward to our new and final lab space soon!

10/2022 Our paper entitled "3D Printed Skull Cap and Benchtop Fabricated Microwire-Based Microelectrode Array for Custom Rat Brain Recordings" got accepted and published in Bioengineering. Congratulations to Dongyang on his first first-author journal publication!

10/2022 Our proposal on "Hybrid Additive Manufacturing with In Situ Machining" was selected for funding during the NSF IUCRC SHAP3D IAB meeting and we will carry out the research in 2023.

09/2022 Venkata Shashidhar Akella and Balaviswanathan Aniruddh join the lab as MS Directed Studies student for Fall 2022.

09/2022 Nathan Landry gets admitted to the Master's program and continue to stay in the lab as a MS Directed Studies student in Fall 2022.

08/2022 The Symposium on Advances in Design, Manufacturing, Analysis, and Development of Biomedical Devices proposed by Dr. Lei Chen together with Drs. Yi Wang and Yang Liu has been approved for the ASME MSEC 2023. Look forward to your paper submissions and see you at Rutgers in 2023! Please see call for papers here.

08/2022 Preprints of our paper entitled "Automated Assembly of High-Density Carbon Fiber Electrode Arrays for Single Unit Electrophysiological Recordings" submitted to Journal of Neural Engineering is available on Biorxiv.

07/2022 Dr. Lei Chen gave a seminar talk entitled "Investigation of Bone Drilling Temperature and Cutting Tool Optimization in K-wire Insertion" at the Virtual Symposium on Advanced Medical Devices hosted by the Chinese Journal of Mechanical Engineering.

07/2022 Dr. Lei Chen was invited to visit the Draper Laboratory at Cambridge, MA and gave a seminar talk entitled "Fabrication Automation and Deep Implantation of the Next Generation Brain-Machine Interfaces".

06/2022 Together with Dr. Walfre Franco, Dr. Lei Chen is serving as guest editor of an Special Issue on "Biomedical Design and Manufacturing" for Bioengineering. Look forward to your manuscript by the 01/31/2023 deadline.

06/2022 The MINI Lab received a grant from Raytheon Technologies Corporation to conduct research on manufacturing equipment synchronization for additive manufacturing of flexible electronics.

06/2022 Our poster entitled "Phantom Material Development for Mimicking Rat Brain Rupture Behaviors during Electrode Implantation" won the Best Poster Award at the 2022 ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC 2022) hosted by Purdue University at West Lafayette, IN. Well done team!

05/2022 The MINI Lab members visited Actuated Medical Inc. at Bellefonte, PA and Dr. Lei Chen presented the lab's research entitled "Deep Implantation of the Next Generation Cellular Scale Brain-Machine Interfaces".

04/2022 The ENGN engineering capstone design team supervised by Dr. Lei Chen and sponsored by Brooks Automations successfully presented their project on Metal Band Technology Testing Equipment.

01/2022 Dr. Lei Chen presented at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center Virtual Seminar Series with a presentation entitled "Fabrication and Deep Implantation of the Next Generation Cellular Scale Brain-Machine Interface".

01/2022 Our paper entitled "Advances in Machining of Hard Tissues – From Material Removal Mechanisms to Tooling Solutions" got accepted and published in International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture.

01/2022 Brian Ung and Nathan Landry join the MINI Lab as an undergraduate research assistants. Welcome!

2021 Archive

12/2021 Two MECH capstone teams under Dr. Chen's supervision have finished their projects working on "Insertion Tool for Microelectrodes in Brain-machine Interfaces" and "Compact Microdrive and Skull Cap System for Brain-machine Interface Positioning".

10/2021 Dr. Lei Chen was invited to give a seminar presentation at the Advanced Institute of Manufacturing with High-tech Innovation hosted virtually by National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan. The talk was entitled "Making Biomedical Manufacturing Processes Smarter: From Orthopedic Bone Cutting to Brain-Machine Interface".

10/2021 Our paper entitled "Open-source Toolkit: Benchtop Carbon Fiber Microelectrode Array for Nerve Recording" together with the video demonstration got accepted and published in Journal of Visualized Experiments.

08/2021 Dr. Lei Chen received a Collaboration Initiation Award from NSF-sponsored Industry-Academia Collaboration In Advanced Manufacturing Virtual Workshop to top collaboration initiation grant proposals.

08/2021 Our paper entitled "A personalized approach to non-invasive ventilation masks in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using facial scanning and 3D-printing" got accepted and published in Annals of 3D Printed Medicine.

08/2021 Our paper entitled "Flexible High-Resolution Force and Dimpling Measurement System for Pia and Dura Penetration During In Vivo Microelectrode Insertion Into Rat Brain" got accepted and published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

07/2021 Our paper entitled "Comparison of K-wire Insertion Using Oscillatory and Unidirectional Drilling Modes under Constant Thrust Force" got accepted and published in Journal of Orthopaedic Research.

06/2021 Our work is presented at the 7th Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting as a poster entitled "Automatic Assembly of the Linear High-Density Carbon Fiber Microelectrode Array".

05/2021 Justin Cormier, Harrison Zhu, and Daniyal Ahmed joined the Lab as undergraduate research assistants. Welcome!

04/2021 Dr. Lei Chen started a new position as Adjunct Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School to continue his long-term collaboration with Michigan Medicine scientists on the Brain-Machine Interface studies.

02/2021 Our paper entitled "Laser Sharpening of Carbon Fiber Microelectrode Arrays for Brain Recording" got accepted and published in ASME Journal of Micro and Nano-Manufacturing.

01/2021 Our paper entitled "Multi-Bevel Needle Design Enabling Accurate Insertion in Biopsy for Cancer Diagnosis" got accepted and published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

01/2021 Our paper entitled "Finite element composite simplification modeling and design of the material extrusion wave infill for thin-walled structures" got accepted and published in International Journal of Mechanical Sciences.

01/2021 The MINI Lab received National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant sub-award to conduct research on "A universal and 3D-printed rat calvarium replacement system to enable for pan-cortical and sub-cortical recordings and optogenetics".

01/2021 Dongyang Yi joined the Lab as a Ph.D. student. Welcome!

01/2021 Dr. Lei Chen joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMass Lowell as an Assistant Professor.