CNC machining has revolutionised the way that parts are cut from blanks, through precise but flexible material removal. In contrast, forming processes largely remain inflexible due to their dependence on part-specific tooling. Is it possible to bring the benefits of CNC machining to forming operations?
Our research in this area aims to develop new machines that achieve CNC forming. We already have several working devices, and as well as seeking to improve them, we have found that their mechanics are different from conventional processes giving improved performance:
- CNC forming process innovation – we have built an incremental sheet forming machine, a model flexible ring rolling machine, have developed a structured search for further new processes and are exploring the automation of craft forming processes.
- Mechanics of novel forming processes - we have shown that inducing through-thickness shear and normal strains increases sheet metal formability, and are building a dedicated test rig to examine this effect for a wide range of metals as well as using it for a novel class of ‘paddle forming’ processes.
- Feedback control of forming - a new opportunity in using flexible forming processes is to adapt the process based on on-line feedback of geometry and other properties. We are developing this approach in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Oxford.
Follow the links on the left to find out more about our current projects.