The three major research goals in easiTAP are the development of a combined hard turning and polishing process, the development of a measurement system to detect sub-surface defect generation and the development of an optical measurement system for fully automatic tool wear compensation.
The new approach of this project combines the technology of hard turning and polishing with a reliable process control system integrated in a high-precision hard turning lathe. The control system, consisting of acoustic emission (AE) and force sensors for monitoring as well as optical measurement components, will ensure a safe manufacturing of high-precision parts by means of hard turning. On the one hand the usage of AE and/or force sensors will enable the production of the parts in question without any surface or sub-surface defects. On the other hand the optical component will ensure the fabrication of high-precision parts within the desired tolerances by measuring and compensating the tool wear. Even though the parts accuracy and sub-surface integrity will be ensured with the above mentioned components, the problem of growing part roughness due to growing tool wear remains. To cope with this, nowadays many parts are polished manually which demands extensive skill and experience in addition to a separate working station. To automatize the polishing operation a polishing spindle integrated into the lathe will be used to level the turned surface roughness. Furthermore even optical qualities can be produced. In addition to this the optical measurement device will allow to calibrate the tool position of a new mounted tool without touching the parts surface. Thus non-productive times due to the manual calibration of the tools will be minimized.
With the realization of the envisaged production system the SME-end-users of this new technology will be able to produce their parts reliably, without rejections and in shorter time. Thus the production costs will be reduced drastically. This will enable the SMEs to lower the prices for their parts and therefore strengthen their competitiveness compared to bigger companies. In addition to this the knowledge generated within the project also results in a headstart against other producing companies. The other participating SMEs will enhance their knowledge and their product range and therefore will strengthen and improve their market position in their special area. Additionally all partners will have the benefit of the projects network.
All envisaged tasks and objectives cannot be done and reached by the SMEs on their own since the effort is much too comprehensive and requires an extensive expenditure of time. Also it would necessitate capacity of manpower and therefore would have a negative effect on their production. In addition to this a widespread knowledge in different areas of expertise is necessary even for a single task. Therefore the main part of the necessary research work has to be carried out by RTD performers on behalf of the SME partners building a project consortium. Each single SME partner will additionally be responsible for research and demonstration activities within the project. The end-users will execute life-time and performance tests on the parts machined with the new technology. The cutting tools manufacturer and the manufacturer of the optical measuring systems, the machine tool and the custom made spindle will optimise their products based on the findings and results of the project. By carrying out each product optimisation they also are able to strengthen their market position against competitors.