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Metal Manufacturing Gets Sensitivity Boost

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

A group of committed-to-progress researchers in the UK have spent the last two years exploring the benefits of enhancing the process of producing metal.


The highly collaborative “Intelligent Tooling project” is investigating the potential of enhancing metal-production monitoring by embedding highly volatile sensors and electronic components into high-value machining applications in manufacturing sectors.


With them, machining technologists can be made aware of small variations in input parameters such as temperature, force, acoustic emission, and vibration that are taking place close to the cutting surface. And they can be made aware of them much earlier in the process than they’ve historically been.


This sophisticated embedded sensing allows manufacturers to obtain data on the machining process at the time of cutting, so identified and unwelcome variations can be diagnosed and managed in real-time.


Experts are already predicting that this enhanced level of detailed sensing could revolutionize the metal machining game for the increased capacity and safety oversight it introduces to the system.


For one, this early signalling system represents a financial boon to the industry, which has conventionally had to find funds to produce do-overs and repairs when final product inspections inside this high-value sector reveal the requirement to re-cut metal.


It also means that the utilization of tools can be improved, process variation can be eliminated, cycle times can be shortened, and the call for human intervention can be substantially reduced.


The ultimate target of the Intelligent Tooling project is to develop a prototype tooling insert that’s outfitted with robust, lightweight sensors that can withstand and exceed the harsh environmental conditions that are present in metal machining.


Ultimately, this innovative sensor technology might find high-value machining applications in such manufacturing sectors as defence, space, rail, automotive, marine and energy.

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