Precision guided flexible forming: closed-loop control of geometry and properties for high value metal component manufacture

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Manufacturing involves only three types of processes - adding, changing or removing material. 'Metal Bashing' - changing the shape of metal components without removal or additions - is easily over-looked or even derided as the 'ugly duckling' of manufacturing technology, yet continues to be central to UK manufacturing, and always will be: jet engines, medical scanners, cars, high-rise offices and contemporary industrial equipment all depend on metal forming, both to define component geometries and to create the properties such as strength and toughness which determine product performance. Despite great excitement over additive processes such as 3D printing, metal forming will never be replaced, because the high-performance properties of steel, wrought aluminium and other key metals can only be developed as a result of careful control of deformation and temperature over time. Globally we use 25 times more steel than any other metal - in the UK our consumption drives production of 500kg of steel per person per year - and every steel product has been shaped by several metal forming processes. Inevitably, metal forming processes are therefore central to the production of a third of all manufactured exports from the UK which are in total worth over £75bn. However, the tools required for forming metal components are custom-made for each application at great cost, so metal forming is often expensive unless used in mass production, yet the drivers for development of future high-value UK manufacturing require increased flexibility and smaller batch sizes without sacrificing either the accuracy or properties of metal parts.

In the past twenty years, several research labs around the world have responded to this challenge and explored the design and development of novel flexible metal forming equipment. However these processes have largely failed to move from the lab into industrial use, due to a lack of precision and a failure to guarantee product microstructure and propertis. Recent developments in sensors, actuators, control theory and mathematical modelling suggest that both problems could potentially be overcome by use of closed-loop control, and in work leading to this proposal, we have demonstrated the first online use of a stereo-vision camera in a flexible sheet metal forming process to provide the feedback needed to control the final shape of the sheet precisely. This has shown us that closed-loop control of forming is possible and valuable, but involves a trade-off between product quality, process flexibility and production speed.

This proposal therefore brings together four disciplines, previously un-connected in the area of flexible forming, to explore this trade-off and develop the key knowledge underpinning future development of commercially valuable flexible metal forming equipment: mechanical design of novel equipment; control-engineering in both time and space; materials science of metal forming; fast mathematical process modelling. At the heart of our proposal is the ambition to link design, metallurgy and modelling to control engineering, in order to identify the opportunity for developing and applying flexible forming, and to demonstrate it in practice in four well focused case-studies.

The proposal comes with £1.2m gearing, including support for five PhD students to work within the project, and substantial commitments of time and trials from Siemens Metals Technologies, Firth Rixson and Jaguar Land Rover. The outcomes of the work will be communicated through publications, demonstrations, workshops for both industry and academic developers, and through an edited book.

Planned Impact

The intention of this proposal is to develop basic understanding of flexible metal forming technology, delivering insights and capabilities to industry, and raising broader awareness of the future potential of flexible forming. The work programme includes four case-studies designed specifically to facilitate impact within the three businesses with whom the proposal was created. Siemens Metals Technologies are equipment developers, where both Firth Rixson and Jaguar Land Rover are equipment users, of bulk and sheet forming equipment respectively. Two of the case studies - flexible ring rolling and sheet free-forming - have been chosen to be of immediate interest to these two users, while the third examines the generic possibility that the requirement for stiffness in equipment and tooling designs could be substituted by actuation. The final case study will use the example of profile-forming to develop means to identify areas where flexible forming will have most commercial potential in future. The intention of the case studies is that they may reveal specific technical opportunities, while also delivering impact within the partners, through skills and knowledge developed through project participation.

To raise awareness beyond the three partner companies of the opportunities identified by the project, we have budgeted for an annual one-day workshop on flexible-forming, to be organised in collaboration with the relevant KTNs, to engage with a broader spectrum of UK industry, share the potential, and seek further opportunities for development and deployment. Where the results of the work demonstrate real commercial potential, we will jointly seek extension funding in collaboration with other institutes such as the Advanced Forming Research Centre, to develop the work into industrial prototypes. Intellectual property opportunities will be pursued through the two Universities' well developed routes.

Future development of flexible forming technologies in the UK will depend on increased awareness of the broad opportunity created by the work of the project, so we will work to communicate the opportunity widely. To pursue this, we have requested support to produce a well-designed brochure - for broad physical and virtual distribution - and to create a short video to introduce the technology area.

Publications

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Allwood J (2016) Manufacturing at double the speed in Journal of Materials Processing Technology

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Arthington M (2019) Control of ring rolling with variable thickness and curvature in International Journal of Material Forming

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Cawthorn C (2014) Comparison of Analytical Models for Sheet Rolling in Procedia Engineering

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Cleaver C (2019) Curvature development in ring rolling in Journal of Materials Processing Technology

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Cleaver C (2016) Ring rolling with variable wall thickness in CIRP Annals

 
Description Cambridge-Rutherford Memorial Scholarship
Amount £92,301 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Society of New Zealand 
Sector Learned Society
Country New Zealand
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2016
 
Description College Fellowship
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Cambridge 
Department Corpus Christi College
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2014 
End 08/2016
 
Description College Lectureship & Fellowship
Amount £31,165 (GBP)
Organisation University of Cambridge 
Department Gonville and Caius College
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 09/2016
 
Description Funded through Dr Brambley's Royal Society URF grant
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 08/2015
 
Description Royal Society University Research Fellowship
Amount £422,269 (GBP)
Funding ID UF100844 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 09/2016
 
Title Asymptotic modelling of sheet rolling 
Description Introduced asymptotic modelling in the field of metal rolling. Pre-existing slab models can be generalised and greatly extended by these techniques. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact We now have a model for the internal stress distribution in a rolled sheet. This is vital for consideration of microstructural changes. 
 
Title Predictive tool for thermal transport in hot rolling 
Description A crude thermal model was introduced to aid the design of an experimental rolling machine. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The model, provided to our engineering colleagues in the form of a simple computer program, allowed reasonable estimates regarding thermal processes to be made during the design process. 
 
Description European Study Group with Industry/Teknova - Silicon Carbide Production 
Organisation Teknova
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Modelling of Silicon Carbide production begun at the 100th European Study Group with Industry. We provided some basic modelling and critical analysis of previous models
Collaborator Contribution The partners provided industrial expertise and data
Impact Research paper in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Siemens Metals Technologies 
Organisation Siemens AG
Department Siemens VAI Metals Technologies
Country Austria 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sponsor of PGFF project and two connected PhD students separate from project
Collaborator Contribution Data & advice
Impact N/A
Start Year 2011
 
Title RING ROLLING PROCESS AND APPARATUS FOR RING ROLLING 
Description Design and operation of flexible radial profile ring rolling machine Novel machine design enabling radial profile ring rolling: axial rolls at same location as radial tools, and multiple constraint rolls around ring circumference 
IP Reference CP7105463 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed No
Impact N/A
 
Title Automatic compensation for springback in FAS 
Description Software for automatically compensating for springback on a flexible metal spinning machine 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Improved accuracy of products producing using flexible spinning machine 
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2014.10.357
 
Title Automatic support roller positioning in FAS 
Description Software for positioning the internal rollers in a flexible metal spinning machine 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Improved possibility of using flexible spinning machines in place of conventional spinning machines 
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2014.10.357
 
Description FitUK2 Event at Strathclyde; 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact speech at the FitUK2 Event at Strathclyde university
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description 12th ICTP in Cambridge, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 12th ICTP, in Cambridge, UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ictp2017.org
 
Description 2nd ERP Plenary 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 2nd ERP Plenary 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ASK Metal Forming meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact speech at ASK Metal Forming in Aachen, Germany
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description CDT lecture on Energy and the Foreseer Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CDT lecture Energy and the Foreseer project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.foreseer.group.cam.ac.uk/foreseer-tool/
 
Description CIRIA seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk at CIRIA seminar
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description CIRP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact participation and speech at CIRP meeting, Paris
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description CIRP General Assembly 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CIRP General Assembly
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description CIRP General Assembly, Cape Town 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CIRP general assembly
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.cirp.net/
 
Description CIRP general assembly, Lugano, Switzerland 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 2017 CIRP general assembly, Lugano, Switzerland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Dissemination meeting with Arcelor Mittal - PhD industry sponsor 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dissemination meeting with Arcelor Mittal - PhD industry sponsor
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Dissemination meeting with Jens Holst, Siemens, industry partner, PhD sponsor 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dissemination meeting with Jens Holst, Siemens, industry partner, PhD sponsor
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description EIP Meeting on Raw materials 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact EIP Meeting on Raw materials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description EPSRC Manufacturing the Future conference at IfM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact gave speech at the EPSRC Manufacturing the Future conference held at IfM, Cambridge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description EPSRC circular economy meeting with Shyeni Paul 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact EPSRC circular economy meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description ERP plenary meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact ERP plenary meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engineering Masterclass for sixth form students 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Engineering Masterclass for sixth form students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Further dissemination meeting with Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty House 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Further dissemination meeting with Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty House, re UK steel industry future
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description ICTP 2014 (Nagoya, Japan) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Some useful discussions, and spirited discussion with previously unknown potential collaborators after talks.


Closer contact with research groups in Germany and Russia. Learned about several new processes that are particularly amenable to our modelling techniques
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.jstp.or.jp/commit/ictp/ictp2014/
 
Description Industry sponsor visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Industry visit with the purpose of updating on research activities and progress on industry sponsored PhD students in the group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description International programme lecture on "living well with less" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Cambridge international programme lecture on "Living well while using less: we could, but would we?"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description JLR Cambridge, Milestone 2 review 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact JLR M2 review
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Liberty House video about UK steel industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Liberty House video about UK steel industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Liberty House, GreenSteel council 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact participation with Liberty House at the their Green Steel council meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Liberty Vehicle technology discussions 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact a visit to Liberty Vehicle Technologies
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Market survey on flexible ring rolling 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Confirmed interest in the idea of flexible ring rolling, generated case study 'demonstration' parts, led to further collaboration on conceptual design of machine


N/A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Material Demand Reduction workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Material Demand Reduction workshop - including a Royal Society publication
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2016
URL http://www.uselessgroup.org/news/material-demand-reduction-workshop-royal-society-philosophical-tran...
 
Description Meeting with Caleb Deeks at HM Treasury re UK steel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Caleb Deeks at HM Treasury re UK s
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Clive Maxwell, Director General at DECC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Clive Maxwell, Director General at DECC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Julian Kelly at the HM Treasury re UK steel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Julian Kelly at the HM Treasury re UK steel
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Liberty House advisors - UK steel industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting with Liberty House advisors - UK steel industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Mtg with Primetals & MTC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dissemination mtg with Primetals & MTC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Mtg with Robert Fell, Recyclemetals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Mtg with Robert Fell, Recyclemetals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Mtg with Sanjeev Gupta, Liberty House on UK steel industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact expert panel dissemination to Sanjeev Gupta at Liberty House on the UK steel industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at the London Materials Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at the London Materials Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Public lecture on steel industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact a public lecture on steel industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Tata Steel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact research group visit and presentations to industrial sponsor
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Tata industry sponsor project meeting in Cambridge 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Tata industry sponsor project meeting in Cambridge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Teach First Futures Cambridge Residential 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Motivated students to consider maths at university

Too soon to see impact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description World Steel 50th Anniversary dinner and panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact speaking at the world steel 50th anniversary dinner and participating in a panel discussion
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description half day workshop for University of Tokyo on technical aspects of manufacturing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact half day workshop for University of Tokyo on technical aspects of manufacturing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description meeting at BIS with Dominic James et al re "A bright future for steel" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact meeting at BIS with Dominic James et al re "A bright future for steel"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description meeting with John Loughead at BEIS re materials forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact meeting with John Loughead at BEIS re materials forum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description networking lunch with Bernice Lee, Director of the Hoffman Centre on the sustainable resource economy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact networking lunch with Bernice Lee, Director of the Hoffman Centre on the sustainable resource economy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description networking lunch with Rachel Brown, EPSRC re circular economy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact networking lunch with Rachel Brown, EPSRC re circular economy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description networking with World Steel organisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact networking with contacts at World Steel dinner event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description speech at industry facing event, organised by Andre van der Merwe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Speech at industry facing event organised by Andre van der Merwe
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description treasury meeting with Liberty House 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact treasury meeting with Liberty House re UK steel industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016