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Advanced Polymeric COmpounds and Metal Matrix Composites for Excellent Performances in Machine Tools applications

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Cost-effective and high-performance machine tools

Small businesses that manufacture specialised production equipment will soon have an important competitive edge. EU-funded scientists are developing novel materials for enhanced performance of machine parts.

Industrial Technologies

Machine tools are used to produce complex parts of varying size from different types of materials. This hard work can generate heat internally and externally, deforming the machine components and inducing errors in the final product. Heavy metal parts can also be difficult to control with precision. Their large mass creates inertial effects such as chatter and other types of vibrations. Solving issues of thermal and dynamic stability in specialised cases can be particularly difficult for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The EU funded project COMETA is developing novel materials for machine parts tailored to the needs of SMEs to address these challenges to their competitive position. With suitable combinations of matrix materials, reinforcements and processing procedures, scientists are enhancing the properties of machine parts of all sizes and shapes. Benefits include reduced weight to lower inertia,improve damping capabilities, thermal properties, and superior abrasion and wear resistance. Polymeric short fibre compounds (SFCs) are targeted to replace metal interfaces with composite materials in medium to large mobile structures that require damping. They consist of thermoset or thermoplastic polymeric resins impregnated with glass or carbon fibres. SFCs will be used for parts with complex geometries such as flanges and inserts that connect mechanical components such as motors, guideways and spindles. Aluminium matrix composite (AMC) materials target small to medium size components that require precision, hardness and good thermal stability at high operating temperatures. AMC’s are made of an aluminium matrix reinforced with fibres that are thin hair-like filaments (whiskers) or particles. AMCs will be used in components such as spindle cases and bearing spacers. The first project period was devoted to assessing the wish list of manufacturers, conducting feasibility studies and selecting appropriate case studies. With a clear definition of all applications, the team proceeded with the specification of materials and manufacturing routes to deliver cost effective machine tools in small numbers as required by SMEs. COMETA's contribution to the competitive position of SMEs, which represent a large portion of the European production equipment industry, is expected to have lasting impact on job creation and economic growth.

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