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L. Rafael Sanchez Vega, PhD, PE

Associate Professor - Mechanical Engineering

Contact Information

Office: North Classroom, Room 2024-Q
Telephone: 303-315-7559

Research Interests

Metal formability
Friction/wear studies
Prototyping modeling
Measurement systems
Experimental techniques
CAD/CAM design and manufacturing

Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing

Curriculum Vitae: Download



L. Rafael Sanchez Vega work focuses on applied research with industrial applications. His industrial experience includes four years of working as a senior staff engineer at LTV Steel Technology Center (Independence, OH) and one academic sabbatical year at Micro Motion (Boulder, Colorado). At UCD Denver, he has developed procedures and test devices to evaluate mechanical and friction properties on sheet metals. His work has been used by many industries and in major companies such as General Motors, US Steel, and China Steel (Taiwan). More recently his attention has been focused on solar energy, specifically focusing on the design and development of a small scale Fresnel based solar thermal system particularly suited for off grid applications.

Of particular concern to Dr. Sanchez Vega, is teaching students to apply academic concepts to the engineering world. This concern motivated him to develop new courses, such as MECH 2208 Prototyping Techniques for Engineers, and MECH 4208/5208 Experimental Mechanics. In these courses, the students are exposed to academic approaches, experimental techniques, and professional skills in order to provide more rounded learning experiences.



General Manager's Award, LTV steel, Independence, OH

ALCOA Foundation Award, Pittsburg, PA 

University of Colorado Denver Grant Awards 

SME Chapter 77 Recognition for dedicated services as chairman

SME Distinguished Faculty Advisor award

Recipient of the Fourth Annual Italian Machine Tool Technology Awards (IMTTA)

Solar Energy


L.R.Sanchez, Modeling and experimental evaluation of a small-scale fresnel solar concentrator system. Journal Renewables: Wind, Water, and Solar, 3(1), 1-8, DOI: 10.1186/s40807-016-0021-9. (2016)


Metal Forming Research


Luis R. Sanchez, S. Peterson, A. Satar, C/G. Simonsen, An Interferometer Based Experimental Technique to Evaluate Large Strains and Springback on Sheet Metal, IMECE2013-66373,Proceedings of the ASME (2013)


Glenn A. Lucachick (Dr. Sanchez’ MS student), L. Rafael Sanchez, “Surface topography changes in aluminum alloy sheet during large plastic straining under cyclic pure bending”, Journal of Materials Processing Technology, (2012)


L. Rafael Sanchez, Susan Hartfield-Wünsch (GM), Effects on Surface Roughness and Friction on Aluminum Sheet under Plain Strain Cyclic Bending and Tension,  2011-01-0535, 0535 SAE International Journal of Materials and Manufacturing, DOI: 10.4271/2011-01-0535 (2011)


Susan Hartfield-Wünsch (GM), L. Rafael Sanchez, Effects of Surface Finish on Aluminum Sheet Friction Behavior, SAE world congress Conference, April 2011


L. R. Sanchez, “Modeling of springback, strain rate, and Bauschinger effects during a two-dimensional steady state cyclic flow of sheet metal subjected to bending under tension”. International Journal of Mechanical Sciences. vol 52 (2010) 429–439 (2010)


Golden, CO, USA, pp 373-384 (2009)


L. R. Sanchez, “Characterization of a Measurement System for Reproducible Friction Testing on Sheet Metal under Plane Strain”, Journal of Tribology International 32 (1999) 575-586.


L.R. Sanchez, “A New Cyclic Anisotropic Model for Plane Strain Sheet Metal Forming “, International Journal of Mechanical Sciences. 42 (2000) 705-728.


L.R. Sanchez, “Strain Rate Effects on Sheet Metal during Cyclic Bending under Tension”, Sheet Metal Forming Technology, TMS, San Diego CA, 1999, p. 141-156


L.R. Sanchez, “Experimental Investigation of Friction Effects Enhanced by Tool Geometry and Forming Method in Plane Strain Sheet Metal Forming”. “Tribological Transactions” of STLE.  Approx. pages: 12 (6 pages/standard paper size), Oct. 1998.


L.R. Sanchez, "Clamping Effects During the Forming of Aluminum and Steel Sheets for Lightweight Autobody Applications",  29th International Symposium on Automotive Technology and Automation (ISATA), Paper # 96NM169, pp. 529 - 535, Florence, Italy, 1996


L.R. Sanchez, K.J. Weinmann, "An Analytical and Experimental Study of the Flow of Sheet Metal between Circular Drawbeads", Journal of Engineering for Industry, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME, Feb. 1996


L.R. Sanchez, D. Robertson, J.C. Gerdeen, "Springback of Sheet Metal Bent to Small Radius / Thickness Ratios", Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Technical Paper 960595, Feb. 1996.


L.R. Sanchez, "Experimental Simulation of the Sheet Metal Response to Clamping During Forming",Analysis of Autobody Stamping Technology  (SP-1021), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 1994


L.R. Sanchez, K.J. Weinmann, J. Story, "A Friction Test for Extrusion by Combined Forward - Backward Flow". Trans. of the 13th North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC), SME, (1985). Berkeley, California pp. 110-117.


(With A. Rosenburger, K.J. Weinmann ) "The Bauschinger Effect of Sheet Metal Under Cyclic Reverse Pure Bending". The Annals of the College International pour L’Etude de Production Mecanique (CIRP), Japan 1988


MECH 4208/5208       Experimental Mechanics (New course by LRSV) 

Symbiosis of experimental techniques and theoretical analysis in order to gain a more intimate understanding of the physical and mathematical basis of theoretical modeling.


MECH 2208-002         Prototyping Techniques for Engineers (New course by LRSV) 

Applies the rigor of engineering, mathematics and physics from a conceptual idea to the practical realization of a functional, working prototype


MECH 3027         Measurement Systems (Lecture)


MECH 3028         Measurement Systems Laboratory


MECH 3035          Design of Mechanical Elements


MECH 5144           Plasticity and Creep   


MECH 4208/5308   Prototyping Techniques for Engineers


MECH 4035            Mechanical Design II 


MECH 4045            Mechanical Design III           


MECH 4208/5208            Prototyping Techniques for Engineers and Architects

Interdisciplinary Course with Dept. of Architecture (Lecture, Lab and Study)


MECH 4248                     Manufacturing Process Design (Recitation and Laboratory)


MECH 4228/5228            3-D CNC Machining (Graduate level)                      


MECH 3043                     Strength of Materials 


MECH 4268/5268            Dimensional Tolerance Analysis with GD&T


MECH 3065                     Introduction to Mechanisms


​Extensive service to the mechanical engineering department, the college, ​CU Denver, and the community. Please see Vita​.

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