Machining science students share research ideas at IDC Machining Conference 2018

18 May 2018

Electrification of aircraft paving the way for a new generation of mass public transport was one of the novel ideas discussed at the IDC Machining Conference 2018 held at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre this week.

The annual conference, now in its third year, is hosted by the Industrial Doctorate Centre (IDC) in Machining Science, which is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Faculty of Engineering.

The conference provides an opportunity to share research interests and exchange ideas with other researchers and the PhD and EngD machining science students who attended Monday’s conference covered a range of topics from materials for machining and damage detection to alternative machining processes. It also included keynote talks from Dave Smith, Director of Central Technology for Rolls-Royce and Nikolaos Dervilis, lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield.

Mr Smith enthused students with his talk on the evolution of the jet engine through research in machining and how innovation is helping industry to create new products such as new gas turbine designs and the use of advanced materials. He also said work is being done by Rolls-Royce to test engines digitally.

“When that gets fully mature I think 70 per cent of the design and testing of an engine will be in a computer,” Mr Smith told the conference. “It’s not there yet but we’re getting there. These are big transformations.”

He spoke about new market opportunities and the electrification of aircraft, saying it had the potential to completely change how people travel – moving mass transport from rail to air - and would make better use of thousands of airfields across the country.

“If you can make short take-off and landings using electric-driven plans then suddenly you enable a new form of transport and that’s because you can land in different places,” he said.

“There are 3,000 airfields in the UK and most of which cannot be used for anything terribly useful because they are not long enough or are near lots of people. However, using electric-driven power, what you can do is distribute the propulsion differently and change the aircraft and can have short take-offs and landings and much less noise.

“That means you now have all these airfields now in use because you do not have the noise problem and there is potential to have regional transport that could be radically different and better than the competition, which is rail.”

Nikolaos Dervilis spoke about computational intelligence in structural dynamics and the importance of outlier detection in machine learning, which he said is particularly important for autonomous vehicles.

Among the technical presentations given by students was one by Sam Ashworth who spoke about tool wear and the importance of coating tools for carbon fibre reinforced composite machining. Marco Galindo discussed modelling mechanical properties of additively manufactured titanium alloys towards modelling chip formation and Fernando Cepero spoke about a machining finite element method (FEM) study of long fibre unidirectional laminates.

Chris Dredge gave a presentation on a project involving three industrial partners – Rolls-Royce, SECO Tools and Timet – which is looking at microstructural analysis of new titanium alloys and relationship to key machinability.

Matt Brown presented his research discussing destructive characterisation of machining induced white layer and Chandula Wickramarachchi spoke about tool wear inspection of polycrystalline cubic boron nitride inserts using principle component analysis.

Tim Rooker talked about visual and automated methods for performance monitoring and Jack Palmer’s presentation was on understanding wheel topography effects in advanced aerospace alloy grinding optimisation. Ellis Taylor’s spoke about optimising tool performance in the cryogenic machining of light materials and Ian Jeavons presented his research on calibration and the Gaussian process bias correction for industrial robot machining.

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