H2 Manufacturing: Hybrid-Hybrid machining of next generation aerospace materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


The application of laser assisted machining/processing has shown promise in reducing tool wear in the machining of difficult-to-machine aerospace materials, such as, metal matrix composites (MMCs). On the other hand, ultrasonically assisted machining has been successfully used to demonstrate essential reductions in cutting forces with an improvement of machined surface quality. This project is a fundamental research programme that aims to comprehensively study the two techniques in combination with a clear route to implementation. Through the transition to hybrid-hybrid manufacturing processes such as the one proposed, UK industries will be able to meet the growing needs of present and future sectors/customers by efficient and sustainable resource usage in the manufacture of future aerospace materials.

The research will focus on the influence of the thermal field-ultrasonic vibrations-mechanical deformation on the MMC material taking into consideration the initial underlying micro-structure of the material. Special attention will be paid to dynamic recrystallization and grain growth of the metallic matrix material due to the influence of the imposed thermal field and deformation-rates (due to machining).

In parallel, a laser-ultrasonically assisted machining system will be designed, developed and installed on an existing CNC machine, with the aim of cutting without coolants, using less force and machining-induced damage. Machining studies will be conducted at industrially relevant machining conditions. Comparisons will be drawn with current practice for
best machining outcomes. It is expected that the new hybrid-hybrid manufacture will lead to less machining forces with reduced tool wear and post machining (tensile) residual stresses.

Finally, several case studies will be conducted with the aim of developing next generation tools for optimal manufacture.


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Description laser-assisted turning of an Al-SiC MMC (Al2124 + 17 vol% 0.3 µm SiC) research funded by this grant shows that with appropriate laser-assisted turning parameters, a cutting speed of 565 m/min can be achieved, with over 2.7 to 140 times increase in productivity compared with previously reported values and the surface quality has also been substantially improved in addition to reduced tool wear.
Exploitation Route We will publish our findings (two papers submitted to journals) and work with academic and industrial partners to increase the technology readiness levels.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description RE3 - Rethinking Resources and Recycling
Amount £801,550 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S025200/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 06/2020
Description Research on the theory and key technology of laser processing and system optimisation for low carbon manufacturing (LASER-BEAMS)
Amount £812,910 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S018190/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
Description AMRC 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Knowledge of laser processing science and technology and characteristics
Collaborator Contribution Knowledge of mechanical machining of Ti alloy.
Impact Part of the H2 project.
Start Year 2018
Description BAE Systems 
Organisation BAE Systems
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Advanced laser technologies for aerospace manufacturing
Collaborator Contribution Application specification and certification of university developed technologies to industrial standards.
Impact Rolls-Royce is also a partner.
Start Year 2009