Research & Training

RESEARCH OVERVIEW

Machining operations play a major role in Canada’s manufacturing industry, delivering finished parts to the automotive, aerospace, machinery, energy, biomedical, and die-mold industries. These industries share many traits but have different requirements.

For example, die-mold and aerospace parts are machined in small quantities but require expensive machine tools and have high tooling, machining, and material costs, whereas automotive parts are machined in large quantities on automated mass production lines. Any mistake during production planning leads to a significant increase in cost and delays in production. As a result, industry presently selects conservative material removal rates in order to avoid scrapping parts and damaging costly machine tools. Unchecked, this practice can lead to poor manufacturing competitiveness.

Industry needs to replace costly physical machining trials by science-based virtual simulation models. The digital simulation of machining operations needs to follow the actual steps of manufacturing.

This involves knowledge of the machining properties of the material, the capacity, structural dynamics, kinematics, control, and volumetric accuracy of the machine tools used and the geometry of the part and cutter. This knowledge needs to be validated on existing and next-generation machine tools and integrated into a user-friendly value-added system. Once initial machining strategies are defined, the parts are machined in a virtual environment where productivity, cost, quality and as process faults (vibration, control and volumetric errors, forces, torque, power, dimensional errors, tool failures, tolerance violations) are predicted. Accordingly, the members of this Network have established expertise in all the complementary areas of machining science.

In parallel to developing the technology, highly qualified personnel must also be brought on-line. Practicing manufacturing engineers need interdisciplinary training that includes material processing, mechanics, dynamics, control, metrology, CAD/CAM, and instrumentation in order to successfully deploy a sophisticated science-based manufacturing approach.

There is a considerable shortage of such highly trained personnel in Canada. The Network proposes to train over 70 new graduate engineers equipped with integrated manufacturing knowledge and superior communication and collaboration skills. These engineers are expected to lead the Canadian manufacturing industry as well as take leading positions in Canadian universities and research centres.

There is no VMT system currently available anywhere in the world such as the one proposed by the NSERC CANRIMT. The ultimate goal of the Network is to assess the performance of machining systems to allow for operation optimization within a virtual environment and thus achieve the most cost-effective manufacturing of quality parts at the first machining trial.