Tap-testing with the Machining Dynamics team

22 September 2015

Michael with the Hermle C50 5-axis machining centre. Michael with the Hermle C50 5-axis machining centre.

My name is Michael Caley and for the past three months I have been on an internship with the Machining Dynamics team in the AMRC's Process Technology Group. I was keen to gain some industrial experience before I start the fourth and final year of my Mechanical Engineering degree here in Sheffield.

For me, just the name 'Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre' conjures up an image of a modern, high-tech factory filled with state of the art machine tools, and this is exactly what I was greeted by on my first day. I remember walking round just thinking how cool it all was; it's certainly a fascinating environment in which to work.

My main project has been to conduct an investigation into the dynamic properties of some of the machine tools on the shop floor and create a database of this information. By performing a procedure called tap testing on these machines it's possible to understand how they vibrate; essential knowledge when a critical concern in machining is the elimination vibrations.

As well as using my existing knowledge, the internship has allowed me to learn a lot and I now consider myself a bit of a 'pro' tap tester. I've enjoyed spending time working on the machines in a practical capacity as opposed to sitting at a desk all day; this variation is definitely something I'll look for in jobs later in life.

Tap testing for spindle benchmarking on aCincinnati FTV5 2500 5-axis machining centre. Tap testing for spindle benchmarking on a Cincinnati FTV5 2500 5-axis machining centre.

The culmination of my project has been to pass on the knowledge I gained to a group of the AMRC's machine operators, through training, presentations and practical sessions to enable them to perform these tap tests periodically. Repeating the tests will give an insight into the aging process of the machines, as the dynamic properties may change over time. This has been the best thing about my entire internship; the feeling that I've contributed something that will have a lasting benefit to the centre.

On top of working on my own project I've been lucky enough to work on a variety of other projects currently in progress within the Machining Dynamics group, and had the opportunity to collaborate with industrial clients. I was tasked with carrying out extensive tests on a load measuring cell, which was to be used in a key project, to ensure it functioned as intended. I also undertook tap testing on a client's machines to help them control the process of transporting them to a new factory. I felt proud that I was trusted and deemed to have sufficient knowledge to help out on an important job.

Working at the AMRC I was able to attend numerous talks and seminars on new research findings and emerging technologies. I have learned a lot from presentations on topics ranging from laser vibrometry to micro-milling, given by presenters from the Industrial Doctoral Centre, International Academy for Production Engineering, industrial representatives and even other interns.

I attended a speech by the Minister for Universities, Science and Innovation, Jo Johnson, where he unveiled a significant new scheme for growth in the research and productivity sectors. All of this has really cemented my impression of the AMRC being at the forefront of the push to return our country to the engineering glory days; it's an exciting time indeed to be a young engineer!

For me, the staff and working environment are what has really set the AMRC apart from previous engineering work experiences. All staff members here are really friendly, approachable and happy to assist with anything. Lunchtimes have been a daily highlight as I sit together with colleagues from a wide range of backgrounds; it is not unusual to share a table with friends from Turkey, Poland, France, Chile, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, the list goes on.

As I come to the last couple of days of my time here I can reflect extremely positively on what has been a hugely interesting, rewarding and valuable internship. I have gained a lot of new knowledge and applied a lot of existing knowledge, completing a large project with a genuine legacy.

The AMRC has proved to me that it's a really exciting, cutting edge and inspiring place to work and I will truly miss working here as I head off to finish my degree. Hopefully I'll be back!