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Objectives and research methods of the ISF-Light project

After about 20 years of research and development, ISF enables radical innovation in European sheet metal forming manufacturing. However, ISF cannot claim maturity yet.

The project ISF-Light aims at a wider industrial take-up by SMEs of the emerging technology of incremental sheet forming by:

  • Developing heat supported processes for the forming of high strength and difficult to form materials, especially for light weight construction. Expansion of the process window due to higher strain rates.
  • Integrating ISF with other sheet metal processes (esp. bending and deep drawing) and developing generic industrial tooling.
  • Setting-up applications labs that provide demonstrators, access to shared capacity of medium to large scale processing platforms, knowledge, guidelines and technological advise to support the prediction of the manufacturability of products and the take-up of ISF by SMEs.

In order to achieve these objectives the following research methods will be used:

  • Material characterization
  • Finite-element modeling
  • Conceptual design of local and global heating set ups
  • Prototyping of new heating concepts and experimental testing
  • Conceptual design of integration concepts for incremental sheet metal forming
  • Set-up and integrate the developments (and state-of-the-art) in complementary application labs
  • Manufacturing of demonstration work pieces using application labs, representative for real industrial applications

Material characterization

As precondition for FE-model creation material characterization is required. The accurate description of the material properties according to the defined application cases is very important for the FE-simulation. Therefore 3 different materials groups will be tested. These will be selected so that reference applications specified by user committee members can be supported. For material characterization expertise and high-end test and measurement equipment at Fraunhofer IWU will be used.

Finite-element modeling

Finite-element models of the process will be developed. These models will describe the thermal and mechanical phenomena interacting in heat supported ISF, and will assist in determining the optimal equipment design and operating parameters. These models will provide additional insight in the process, by calculating variables that are difficult or impossible to determine experimentally. They will also significantly reduce the amount of experimental work required. The models will use the input data generated by experiments with the incremental forming equipment of KU Leuven and Fraunhofer IWU.

Conceptual design of local and global heating set ups

Due to the envisaged project goal to extend the range of incremental forming up to light weight materials, it is necessary to develop a suitable concept for component heating. This will include:

  • literature-research for updating the knowledge about the different possibilities for component heating
  • variant analysis of existing heating concepts
  • determination of the most promising concept
  • creation and design of temperature control and monitoring concepts
  • thermal insulation concepts

Prototyping of new heating concepts and experimental testing

Dedicated global and local heating concepts will be designed and built. These heating concepts will be tested systematically to verify the feasibility. They will also be used to optimise the FE -simulation model in order to manufacture the proposed demonstration work pieces in the application labs. For this purpose, heating concepts for each process variant will be built.

Conceptual design of integration concepts for incremental sheet metal forming

Concepts for the integration of ISF-processes into conventional sheet metal processes will be developed to make the available ISF-technology more industrial applicable. At first work preparation for the integration by the usage of existing tools will be done. At second step concepts for generic clamping of ISF-products will be created. In parallel variants for generic handling of ISF-products will be developed and evaluated. At the end the most promising concept will be implemented in a robotized bending cell and ISF-cell ready for transfer into the application lab. Finally validation tests will be performed to evaluate the interaction between processes (e.g. bending/ deep drawing vs. ISF).

Set-up and integration of the developments (and state-of-the-art) in complementary application labs

The developments will be set-up and integrate in complementary application labs at KU Leuven/Sirris and Fraunhofer IWU. This will include:

  • Stand alone ISF platform
  • Integration in existing robotized bending cell
  • Stand alone heat supported ISF platform

Manufacturing of demonstration work pieces using application labs, representative for real industrial applications

The experimental work will be performed with the incremental forming equipment in the developed application labs of KU Leuven and Fraunhofer IWU. Also Sirris will build a new setup with an increased working area compared to the existing KU Leuven robot setup. This new setup will be integrated in the existing robotized bending cell. KU Leuven owns a 6-axis robot which is equipped with a forming tool and in addition to that they have a Nd-YAG Laser with the maximum power of 500W. Fraunhofer IWU owns a gantry-style design built CNC milling machine adapted for incremental sheet metal forming. This machine has a working area of 3500 x 3000 mm and is applicable for 5-axis simultaneous machining. The experimental research performed at KU Leuven will focus on incremental forming with local heat support for small to medium sized parts. Fraunhofer IWU will focus on incremental forming with global heat support for large parts. The combination of the two equipments allows addressing a wide field of applications, to exchange already existing knowledge and to verify the results of the numerical models on different types of equipments (robustness of the model). The work pieces to be manufactured can be (parts of) real production parts (within the limits of the possibilities, based on the size, complexity, and so on), or test pieces fabricated in such a way that they are representative for the interests of the participating companies. The obtained deformed sheet materials can be investigated using the following techniques:

  • Visual inspection,
  • 3D-geometrical measurements,
  • High speed camera measurements,
  • Local deformation measurements using raster patterns.

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