Advanced Hybrid Mechatronic Materials for ultra precise and high performance machining systems design

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The HYMM Project

The ever growing competition on the international markets pushes manufacturers towards shorter design cycles and decreasing manufacturing times and costs for their products. This trend generates a demand for smart, flexible and faster machining systems, easy to set up and configure, which are able to drastically reduce machining time, while improving the final accuracy. Machine axis acceleration with speeds 3-5 times higher than conventional ones together with a machining accuracy in the range of 0.5-1 microns will be the most probable targets of the new generation of machining systems inside manufacturing shops. Inertial forces, dynamic vibration and stability problems arising from such accelerations will be so large that, if no suitable solutions are provided, precision and machining quality will certainly be endangered. Strong mass reduction of mobile machine parts together with an increasing of their stiffness and damping properties, to get excellent static, dynamic and thermal stability of the structures, is becoming a 'must' to ensure a technological and cost-effective achievement of such an ambitious goal. Conventional materials for building machine tools are commonly cast iron, welded steel and in some cases aluminium-alloy. Recently, especially in some running EU projects, studies have been carried out to introduce polymeric matrix composite (reinforced PMC-fibres) materials, aluminium Honeycomb and glued structures. Even if good results in term of mass reduction and increased damping are achieved within such projects, this will not be enough to get the declared excellent technological machine performances.

The research will be focused on new materials for macroscale applications to reach a full and deep integration between structural and mechatronic parts of the machines in order to get an "unicum" solution able to perform all the required functions. Therefore the primary goal is to achieve cost-effective structural solutions consisting of a new class of "hybrid mechatronic material" based on smart and multifunctional composite materials capable of performing a wide array of multiple functions, ranging from high and adaptable damping and stiffness characteristics to more demanding new requirements such as structural and measuring/active-control functions in order to achieve the extremely high dynamic/thermal stability required in extremely fast and precision machining.

The main expected benefits of this research will be:
  • Increasing machine performance (axis acceleration) by 3-5 times
  • Improving quality of the machined workpiece (accuracy 0.5-1 micron)
  • Reduction of part weight by more than 50%-70%
  • Increasing damping characteristics by 10 times
  • Reduction in electric power consumption (due to ultra-light structures) of 50%
  • Reduction in machine noise emissions of 3-5 dBa
  • Reduction of environmental impact of ultra-light machine life cycle

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This project is funded by the European Commission, under the 6th Framework Program
for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration.

ŠUniversity of Cambridge Engineering Department