In order for the Canadian machining industry to remain globally competitive, there needs to be a rapid development and deployment of machining strategies. This can be accomplished by simulating and optimizing the complete design and product development of a model in a digital environment. While engineering analysis of design scenarios has been widely developed and used in industry in the form of computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis tools, the modelling of machining processes has thus far been carried out as isolated projects by individual academics. Industry requires the integrated modelling and simulation of machining operations in a virtual environment in order to design and optimize the complete manufacturing cycle.
There are a number of significant research challenges in the proposed research tasks for the NSERC Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology (CANRIMT). The prediction of errors and most-productive cutting conditions depend on how well the mathematical models can predict the interaction between the work material and machine tool. The modelling of material behaviour during machining depends on the material properties, cutting conditions and tool geometry. The cutting conditions may change the material’s micro-structure which, in turn, will alter the strength and the thermal and tribological properties. The relative vibrations between the machine tool and work material may lead to the destruction of both, therefore the mathematical modelling has to be as accurate as possible. NSERC CANRIMT researchers will develop comprehensive models and integrate them into a Virtual Machining System to achieve the highest possible productivity for Canadian industry.
The NSERC CANRIMT Network is comprised of 20 academics from six Canadian universities (University of British Columbia, McMaster University, University of Toronto, École Polytechnique de Montréal, University of Windsor and University of Calgary), in partnership with industry (Pratt & Whitney Canada, Automation Tooling Systems Inc., Memex Automation Inc., Origin International Inc., Bombardier Aerospace and ASCO Aerospace Canada Ltd.) and researchers from the NRC Aerospace Manufacturing Technology Centre and the CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory (which specializes in material modelling and standards). Many of the university researchers have extensive research, training, publication and industrial experience in machining, CAD/CAM, precision machine design, control, kinematics, dynamics, vibrations and metrology.
The interaction between the Canadian machining industry, these key national laboratories, and the NSERC CANRIMT Network members will play an important role in the exchange of complementary research data and expertise.
The Scientific Director of the Network is Professor Yusuf Altintas of the University of British Columbia. Altintas currently holds the NSERC-Pratt & Whitney Industrial Research Chair in Virtual High-Performance Machining, and has 24 years of experience as a professor and four years of experience working in industry. He has published over 110 journal articles with more than 2,500 external citations. Altintas has also developed advanced machining process and CNC simulation technology licensed by over 130 companies and universities worldwide.
NSERC CANRIMT will receive $5 million in NSERC funding and $350,000 from industry over five years. The administration of the network is located in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia and will be overseen by the Scientific Director and the Network Coordinator.
NSERC CANRIMT was formed to establish Canada as the global leader in the emerging field of machining system simulations with the development of the world’s most advanced virtual machining technology (VMT) for both macro- and micro-machining operations.
NSERC CANRIMT will develop a complete set of modelling and analysis tools to plan optimal machining operations in a virtual machining technology (VMT) environment. This will enable the economic manufacture of innovative products without resorting to costly physical trials. The network will test the simulation models on industrial machines and a new five-axis meso-milling machine being developed for the medical and electronics manufacturing industries.
To achieve this objective, the research conducted by the NSERC CANRIMT is organized into five themes.
Theme I: Material Behaviour Modelling and Analysis
This theme forms the scientific basis for the behaviour of materials during machining, and feeds into the chain of all machining sub-themes. The micro- and macro-mechanics of cutting at the tool-chip interface, which are used to determine the cutting load on the machine tool’s structural system, will be studied in this core theme.
Theme II: Machine-Tool Modelling and Analysis
The objective of this theme is off-line prediction and avoidance, and on-line compensation of errors. This requires the modelling of the kinematics, dynamics, control and volumetric errors of machine tools.
Theme III: Process Planning and Validation
The determination of cutter-part engagement geometry for reliable machining simulation, on-line inspection-based process re-planning, and off-line process/part validation against specified tolerances will be studied in this theme.
Theme IV: Reconfigurable Modular Machine Tools (RmMT) – Synthesis, Analysis, and Element Modularity
The mathematical modelling of modern machine tool modules, their connectivity, and the integration of sensors and actuators will be studied in this theme and will be validated on a novel, reconfigurable five-axis meso-machining centre.
Theme V: Virtual Machining Technology (VMT) Integration
The material and machining models (Theme I), machine-tool models (Themes II and IV), and geometric models of the part and tool (Theme III) will be integrated into a VMT platform.
NSERC CANRIMT will assist the Canadian machining industry to become a global leader in the virtual machining technology (VMT) of manufactured aerospace, automotive, machinery, and die and mold parts. VMT will enable the most cost-effective manufacturing of quality parts on the first machining trial.
Over 70 new engineers, equipped with integrated manufacturing knowledge and superior communication and collaboration skills, will graduate from the network laboratories over the five years of the project, and will complete internships at the industrial partners’ manufacturing facilities. These engineers will facilitate the transfer of research results to the Canadian aerospace, automotive, power generation, die-mold and automation industries, and are expected to be the next leaders in Canada’s manufacturing industry, universities and research centres.
Pratt & Whitney Canada, Bombardier Aerospace and ASCO Aerospace Canada Ltd. are leading Canadian manufacturers of jet engines, aircraft and aerospace parts, respectively. Parts are primarily manufactured through machining with high costs and long machining cycle times. The objective of the aerospace industry partners is to produce the first machine part correctly and with minimum cost by using the virtual machining technology being developed by the network.
Automation Tooling Systems Inc., Origin International Inc. and Memex Automation Inc. provide automation modules to the machining industry. The simulation models of automation modules will enable these partners to expedite the design process and test equipment in a virtual environment prior to carrying out costly physical trials.
The network’s industrial partners will actively participate in the research by testing the models and co-advising graduate students during technology transfer internships in their plants. The senior engineers of each industrial partner will participate in each integration and validation project as active members of the network.
The knowledge and expertise resulting from the NSERC CANRIMT will have significant economic, social and environmental impacts on the machining practices of the Canadian manufacturing industry.
Scientific Director and Principal Investigator