ConTemp Project

An increasing number of newly developed and increasingly difficult to machine materials have created new challenges in the cutting technology industry. In particular these materials are high-temperature alloys and composites, which beside their high hardness put the tools under high thermal strain. At the same time manufacturing technology must now put a strong emphasis on environmental issues and sustainability, which challenges conventional cooling methods. By using a self-learning adaptive process control it is possible to stabilise the machining conditions. This will not only improve part accuracies and productivity but also enable the economical cutting of a larger range of materials by minimising tool wear.

Self-Learning Control to Stabilise Tool Temperatures

Process control systems with adaptive and self-learning characteristics have thus far concentrated on the analysis of cutting forces and manipulation of the kinematical process parameters. The ConTemp project is focusing on controlling and stabilising the tool temperature. To make an effective temperature control possible it is necessary to develop a self-learning platform that analyses the process as well as a cutting tool that enables the machining system to monitor and influence the temperature of the workpiece and cutting tool to prevent part damage and tool wear.

Internal Micro Cooling Structure

The control system will consider its knowledge of the material's cutting behaviour and the geometrical and kinematical parameters of the process to estimate dynamic process conditions. The knowledge base is fed during the process by constantly monitoring the measured temperatures. By estimating the process conditions the system is especially well suited for small batch production where time consuming optimisation procedures can be reduced by the self-optimising control. The tool system is based on a novel closed circuit internal micro cooling device that enables an effective temperature control of the tool as well as the measurement of temperatures. Calculation, simulation and modelling of this tool must be applied for optimisation of the design of the tool and the control system. Beyond the scope of the project the platform may be expanded to use different types of sensors and also control other process parameters. The internal cooling approach also offers the possibility to influence temperature and lubrication independently.

Avoidance of Cooling Lubrication

The ConTemp project thereby constitutes the development of a new generation of high performance intelligent and environmentally friendly cutting tools. The optimisation of machining parameters such as feed and cutting speed permits the reduction of machining times and costs through a decrease of manufacturing times. To allow the improvement of these parameters beyond the state-of-the-art, developments on the classic dry machining process must be made. Through ConTemp the application of cooling lubricant is avoided by a closed internal cooling system. Through this dry machining approach the high costs for the provision and disposal of the cooling lubricant are drastically reduced and environmental damage is also minimised, thus taking a step towards sustainable manufacturing. By an estimation of one of the ConTemp partners, PSFU, the potential reduction amounts to 20 % of the production costs. With effective cooling it may become possible to keep the tool in a safe temperature range to enable the application of diamond coatings in the machining of ferrous materials. Currently the application of diamond tools in machining of ferrous materials is limited to polycristalline diamond (PCD) inserts for finishing operations. Furthermore, in conventional processes with cooling lubricants, the temperature difference between the hot chips and the cooling lubricant leads to wear on the cutting edge of the tool caused by micro-cracks. This thermal shock damage is avoided by the internally cooled system and thus tool life and part accuracy are increased.

Increased Efficiency and Expanded Range of Materials

The innovative system will be designed for easy integration into existing machine tools. This approach enables SMEs to profit from the economical as well as the ecological advantages of the new technology. It also prepares SMEs to meet the rising demand for the machining of innovative materials with tailored properties such as high hardness and wear resistance combined with reduced weight. Unfortunately these desirable material properties are often combined with difficulties in machining. As a result the machined surface qualities are either inacceptable or cannot be manufactured economically. The development of new tools and strategies is therefore a major challenge for the European economy to maintain a leading position in the use of advanced materials.

The following innovations are expected as a result of the project:

Development of a self-learning platform

            Analysis and estimation of process conditions

            Self-optimisation of different manufacturing tasks

Development of a new tool system

            Micro structured high performance cooling device

            Easy to integrate into existing manufacturing systems

Aiming at

            Higher stability of the cutting process

            Longer tool life by minimised thermal shock

            Higher quality of the produced parts, reduction of sub-surface damage

            Less ecological impact by avoiding cooling lubricant

            Economical machining of new workpiece materials

Therefore, the project will lead to high value innovative products, high value manufacturing capability and enable an adaptive manufacturing process. Environmentally friendly and sustainable machining will also be enabled by the ConTemp project.