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Nanostructured gripping material for clamping complex workpieces

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - TGRIP (Nanostructured gripping material for clamping complex workpieces)

Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2019-12-31

Complex high-value pieces are a growing field, particularly in high requirement sectors like the aeronautic, and especially in Europe, where 30-40% of worldwide manufacturing of these pieces is concentrated. Remarkable examples of these pieces are fuselage structures and complex pieces of the jet engines (large pieces with complex geometries, requiring (up today) several consecutive clamping-machining operations and several workholding fixtures).
Actual clamping systems (mechanical, vacuum and electromagnetic) for these pieces are complex systems with some fixture-piece clamping elements which create the required union forces. Main clamping systems used in the industry are not fulfilling markets demands as the machinability is complex, quatility of the machining is not as good as expected and the overall cost (tooling and machining) are high.
FRESMAK, in collaboration with POLYMAT (University of Basque Country), has developed an alternative innovative clamping solution, called F-GRIP, based on the principle of reversible adhesion. The developed adhesive is a nanostructured bi-phase polymer with different adherence phases which is controlled with the temperature. Temperature governance allows to stick and unstick any kind of materials with a high clamping force (1100N/cm2) and without compromising cutting areas. This condition made this adhesive excellent for clamping the work-piece and a fixture.
The F-GRIP solution is formed by the adhesive material and the complete clamping fixture with temperature driven adhesion activation system
As a part of the commercialisation plan to introduce and commercialise F-GRIP worldwide, this project aims to introduce F-GRIP in European Aeronautic Industry which will boost the introduction in the rest of the markets in a second stage of commercialisation after this project.
During the Project, Fresmak has developped 5 demonstrators for different sectors and type of parts, adapting the initial concept to the market needs through real applications. The machining tests succesfully performed could demonstrate the versatility of the product and the robustness of the solution.
Aluminum, Titanium, TiAl but also ceramics and technical foams could be clamped, offering a new solution to the partner companies by reducing the number of clamping set-ups to obtain the final parts. Through these cases, Fresmak has developped the final solution of its product: a combination of standard and custom-made features that make the solution adaptative to a wide range of applications.

In terms of adhesive, Fremak has widden its portfolio, developping 2 alternative adhesives to the initial one and improving key characteristics : activation temperature and reversibility. This amplified family of adhesive enables to propose a finished product, fully adapted to customer requirements and part characteristics.

During the project, Fresmak has built its own adhesive fabrication cell in order to develop the processes for a scale-up of its future production. Thanks to the work performed, the key parameters have been defined and quantified; and the necessary means have been identified. Through this analysis, Fresmak is ready to increase its production capacity according to the market demand.

Fresmak has used the off-line and on-line communication means to promote F-GRIP and inform about its evolution.
Through its participation to fairs (as exhibitor or visitor), conferences and various events, Fresmak could actively showcase its innovative product but also identify new customers and potential markets, collect market trends and needs and draw the attention of the scientific community. The press also showed a great interest in F-GRIP as several articles have been published in specialized magazines that could reach an international public. On the other hand, as a result of the activities performed during the project, various media such as leaflets and videos has been prepared and are available to support the commercial speech, showing real examples, benefits and performance of the product.
On the F-GRIP web, potential customers could follow the project through the news that were frequently published. The web page remains a key contact entrance for interested entities that are looking for more information and will be carefully updated in the future months. Last but not least, Fresmak is proactive in the dessimination of the information through social network such as LinkedIn where F-GRIP has been promoted regularly.
The main advantages offered by TGRIP over the conventional clamping technologies is the combination of high clamping force, low interference with cutting tool and its adaptation to part complexity.
TGRIP is suitable for the metal cutting industry operating in the manufacturing of high complexity pieces. Some relevant industries that could benefit from TGRIP technology are metal cutting industries involved in the manufacturing pieces for:
* Aerospace industry: Structural and aircraft cabin parts, but also engine parts such as blades
* Power and Oil&Gas industries: valves, gas turbine blades, rotors.
* Optical and electronics components
* Mold&die industry
The main current market for TGRIP is the collective of industrial subcontractors, particularly Tier2 and Tier3 companies, in the European aerospace supply chain.
The main economic benefits for the users, in comparison between F-GRIP based solution and current solution (mechanical) for this real representative case studied in the made tests, are as follows:
* Machining costs reduction (labour hand and machine using cost) up to 30%. Machining time reduction is directly related with cost reductions (up to 30%)
* Raw part optimization: According to the part design, between 10% and 15% of the necessary material could be reduced, decreasing from 10% to 15% the direct costs of the F-GRIP user
* Capability improvement: With F-GRIP, vetter precision of the part is obtained as the reference is maintained all along the process. The reduction of set-up operation reduces the risk of errors and therefore reduces the part scrap rate.