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BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena

Digitally-Controlled, Toolless and Flexible Forming

Alternative title: Data-kontrollert, verktøyløs og fleksibel forming

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

Project Manager:

Project Number:

317777

Application Type:

Project Period:

2020 - 2024

Funding received from:

Location:

Benteler Automotive Raufoss AS is producing bumper systems/chassis components in extruded aluminium. After being extruded, profiles are formed and cut/machined to the desired shape. Traditionally, such production have meant large production volumes per year and few product variants per customer. The automotive market is now changing, as end-users are searching individuality, ownership flexibility and e-mobility. As a result, the supplier market will be more fragmented, with smaller production series and a higher part flexibility. This will disfavour highly automated companies, where high tooling cost is needed to support effective production. Now, new companies like Sony, Google etc. enter the market with the need for small serial, and highly flexible production. Therefore, high tooling cost is very undesirable, as this will mean that flexibility cannot be met without large tooling investments. To meet these challenges, flexibility and adaptivity must be incorporated in the production process to be able to reduce tooling investments for both the supplier and OEMs, in addition to increased part production flexibility and reduced piece price. One possibility is to make the forming process adaptive and flexible. Therefore, this project will be used to develop a tool-less forming concept - where the forming cycle can be digitally controlled and adjustable during production to avoid out-of-tolerance parts. Another advantage will be that all the trimming done to achieve the correct part quality before production can be met by digital adjustments in the control systems - which will be a huge cost saver on the part price. The aim of this project is to increase the competitiveness of Norwegian manufacturing industry by offering more alternative methods for increased customization. Special focus will be on transforming the forming process by digitization and increased use of "Industry 4.0" in tooling concepts. NTNU has made an adjustable tool insert prototype and carried out the first tests. The results are promising, and confirms that the bending concept is working. The adjustments are so far manual, and we will use the prototype to build experience before building a fully automatic version which can be controlled digitally.

In the automotive industry, OEMs like Volvo are pushing suppliers to pay the tooling cost related to production of a component themselves – in the so-called “supplier paid tooling” concept. This will disfavor highly automated companies, where high tooling cost is needed to support an effective production. At the same time, new companies like Sony, Google etc. are entering the market with the need for small serial, and highly flexible production. To meet these challenges, flexibility and adaptivity must be incorporated in the production process to be able to reduce tooling investments for both the supplier and OEMs, in addition to increased part production flexibility and reduced piece price. One possibility is to make the stretch bending process adaptive and flexible. Therefore, the project will be used to develop a toolless forming concept - where the bending cycle can be digitally controlled and adjustable during production to avoid out-of-tolerance parts. Another advantage will be that all the trimming done to achieve the correct part quality before production can be met by digital adjustments in the control systems - which will be a huge cost saver on the part price. The tool will be represented by adjustable segments, that can be adapted and adjusted to each product. To develop such a technology, research is needed on the theoretical foundation and the conceptual lay-out of such a machine. Once established, a demonstrator can be built and the bending technology can thereafter be industrialized. The aim for Benteler is to install such machines (and also as a press tool version) that can be a standard part in all production lines - avoiding expensive tooling, increasing flexibility and reducing part cost.

Activity:

BIA-Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena