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Modelling Machine and Process Errors

11th December 2018

Project Description

At least 25% of the process time for high value manufactured components arises from machining. Whilst CNC machine tools are programmed to produce geometry to a nominal form and surface finish, sources of error in the machining system impact on the cost, quality and delivery. These sources are split broadly into those induced by the condition of the machine tool system and those induced by the behaviour of the work piece.

The consortium, comprising machine builders, solution providers, academic institutes and end users, will collaborate to produce a predictive software tool that uniquely integrates both machine and machining models to provide prediction and visualisation of component geometry and surface finish. Machine users will be able to model the effects on part accuracy of machine, work holding, and part flexibilities during a cutting cycle, and design their part programs accordingly, thereby reducing prototyping and production downtime. Machine builders will use the tool to improve the design and efficiency of new product development. The modular solution is a stepping-stone to an all-encompassing model for controlling the accuracy of the machining process.

Project Scope

This innovative collaborative R&D project, driven by solution providers and manufacturers throughout the manufacturing supply chain, falls within the specific themes identified by the Mechanical Conversion Manufacturing Processes call by addressing the industrial problem of controlling the output of milling, turning and grinding applications. The outcome of this ambitious project is to provide a solution to integrate both advanced machine tool and machining models to predict and visualise the output for a given process, allowing off-line optimisation of machine design, control software and part program strategy. Although proven individual models exist for specific machine tools or machining scenarios, this project will take profit from the combined expertise of the consortium to deliver a robust solution that can be applied more generally by consortium companies and their customers, especially SMEs who could not otherwise develop this capability.

The end-product for this project will be a modular system that will cover many of the major error sources for machining processes: geometric and thermal errors of machine tools; workpiece and workholding-induced errors; dynamic and control-related errors; etc. Use of the software will allow prediction of component form and surface finish. This will reduce the time and cost associated with prototyping of complex geometries at the level of precision to which the partners work; a task that needs to be completed before firm costs and achievability can be established. This will increase the competitiveness of the partner companies, who can then reduce time to develop new prototypes by up to 75% and eliminate the need for a duplicate set of machines purely for prototyping and method development. The end-result will be an increase in productivity from both a commercial and energy-efficiency point of view throughout the lifecycle of machined products, while reducing scrap and raw material waste due to unforeseen errors.

MTT are a leading consultancy company for prime and supply-chain manufacturers. The project will deliver a solution that can support all manufacturers within the supply chain. An all-encompassing model would not be feasible within the two-year time-frame. However, the modular approach means that the partners, their customers and purchasers of the produced software modules can use this output as a development tool to enhance and optimise the accuracy of the models, providing a development tool that will be useful for the foreseeable future.

The ambitious nature of the project can only be achieved because of the skills available across the consortium, embedding knowledge of machine tools and machining processes into a single system.

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