The Machining Group develops innovative techniques and optimised processes for the machining of high-performance materials.
The aerospace industry is driving the use of high-performance alloys and composites to improve fuel efficiency for a new generation of high-performance aircraft. Components are being produced to tighter tolerances, with more complex geometries, under increasing cost pressures. But the characteristics that make these materials attractive also make them much more difficult to cut and form.
To meet quality standards at an affordable cost, these high-performance materials require high-performance machining. The AMRC’s industrial partners look to the Machining Group to apply the latest technology and innovative techniques, to produce and integrate machining solutions that deliver significant improvements in quality and cost.
We use technologies such as dynamic analysis, simulation, advanced fixturing and tool design to solve real business problems. We use a critical path approach to identify the obstacles which stop components being produced efficiently, and trade studies and cost modelling to determine the most cost-effective way to proceed.
We have a strong track record of working with the aerospace industry, and also work with companies in other high-value industries such as marine, energy, automotive, motorsports, and medical devices.
As well as process optimisation, the Machining Group develops new models of machining. The industry drive for higher tolerances is creating a demand for single-operation machining methods. We are integrating technologies and developing multi-task machining methods to significantly reduce manual intervention and downtime.
Our technology teams develop the techniques and underpinning science that can deliver significant improvements in machining performance, including:
- Process monitoring and control – enabling lights-out machining by deploying the latest tools for intelligent, autonomous manufacturing.
- Machining dynamics – developing new methods to predict, diagnose and control machining vibration.
- Machinability – understanding the essential characteristics of high-performance aerospace materials and cutting tools.
- Process modelling – developing a deeper understanding of metal cutting, composite machining, residual stress and distortion.
Other teams focus on common processes and tools including:
- Grinding – improving performance across the range of grinding and surface finishing operations.
- Computer-aided manufacturing development – generating more cost-efficient NC programs to reduce cutting time or improve tool life.
We are also exploring unconventional machining techniques such as cryogenic machining and ultrasonic milling and drilling. The Machining Group works closely with the AMRC’s non-conventional machining team, which is developing new applications and techniques for abrasive waterjet machining of metals and composites.
Our platform teams bring together experienced manufacturing engineers to focus on particular component families for our core aerospace partners. The platform teams produce demonstration components which embed the techniques developed by the technology teams into the machining process, delivering real benefits to industry.
Platform teams include:
- Rotatives – developing innovative and optimised techniques for the full range of aeroengine discs and shafts.
- Casings – applying a range of novel strategies, tooling and workholding technologies to optimise casing machining.
- Aerofoils – improving machining performance and quality for all single and multi-bladed aerofoil applications for aeroengines and power generation.
- Structures – developing a range of novel approaches for machining large and complex aerostructure components, landing gear and actuation systems.
- Residual stress
- Workholding & automation
We bring together all these areas of expertise, and those of the AMRC’s other research groups, to give companies an integrated solution to their machining challenges.