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Periodic Report Summary 1 - MEGAFIT (Manufacturing Error-free Goods at First Time)

Project Context and Objectives:

This is the first periodic report of the MEGaFiT project, which is a FP7 FoF project with 16 partners from 5 countries, covering the report period from December 2011 to May 2013. The primary goal of MEGaFiT is to develop and integrate all necessary technologies which create the basis to reduce the number of defects in manufacturing of complex high-precision metal parts.


High-precision metal parts are at the heart of many high-added value products, in sectors such as healthcare, consumer goods, watches, automotive and energy. Four observations can be made for today’s manufacturing of such parts:

1. The process typically involves many complex multi-step process chains. However, still excessive and expensive finishing processes are needed in order to acquire the final specifications.
2. The defect rates are high, typically between 1-15%, resulting in high cost prices.
3. There is a continuous trend for more demanding specifications (higher quality, smaller features, lower costs), while simultaneously batch sizes decrease and product variety increases. This results in a smaller number of identical products, which in turn hampers the build-up of experience.
4. The current approach to increase process robustness by applying the well-known Six-Sigma methodology to reduce defects is exhausted for these types of manufacturing processes, due to process and part complexity. A next breakthrough is needed for further defect reduction.

A real breakthrough is needed to face today’s global competition. This breakthrough will be established by applying adaptive process control. Adaptive control is needed in situations where uncontrolled fluctuations occur which result in defects. It adjusts the process system by a control law in order to cope with these uncertainties. Adaptive process control has been applied successfully in other industries. The biggest bottlenecks are: process control algorithms for complete manufacturing process chains (>20 steps); missing in-depth knowledge of micro-forming and additive manufacturing; and the lack of in-line measurements at required accuracy and speed. With the recent developments in these fields and expertise of the involved partners we will further improve these technologies and bring them together to approach zero-defect manufacturing.


In order to reduce the number of defects by adaptive process control, the relevant process variables and interactions have to be identified. As this is time-consuming, costly and difficult on the physical manufacturing process, this will be done on numerical models (WP3). However, as the numerical models will be too time-consuming for evaluation by the real-time in-line process control, the main interactions identified in WP3 will be captured in metamodels that are easy-to-evaluate (WP4). Fast in-line measurements will be developed to feed the control system with real-time information (WP5). To make adjustments in the process, actuating mechanisms have to be developed and the metamodels have to be implemented into the process control unit (WP6). All above developed knowledge and systems will be integrated into the two pilot production lines in industrial settings to prove the chosen approach in order to fulfil the main goal of reducing defects (WP7).

Applying the developed methodology and technologies will result in an expected simultaneous reduction of:

• defects from 5-15% to below 1%;
• cost by at least 20%;
• material and energy consumption by at least 20%;
• number of

The knowledge-based MEGaFiT results are also applicable in different sectors, leading to low defects despite customization trends. MEGaFiT will therefore help in assuring a competitive and sustainable European manufacturing industry.

Project Results:

WP2 “Requirements” has been finished successfully in time with the completion of deliverable D2.1 “Specification of demonstrators and inter work package requirements”. A demonstrator product has been chosen for both the additive manufacturing (AM) process and the microforming (MF) process, based on the needs from the industrial end-users. The MF demonstrator is a combination from the needs from 3 industrial end-users and will produce demonstrator products from two significantly different materials: stainless steel and cupper beryllium.

WP3 “In-depth process knowledge” is on schedule. No deliverables have been submitted in this reporting period, according plan. All involved materials have been characterized and constitutive models have been developed to describe the material behavior. For both demonstrator processes, numerical models have been developed to gain in-depth process understanding. These models have been used for design of the process steps and for first estimations of important process parameters and main interactions. Validation tests have been prepared to validate the models.

WP4 “Model based knowledge systems” has started in April 2013 and no deliverables have been submitted in the reporting period, as planned. Exploration of the design space has been started in close cooperation with WP3. Software tool Optimus has been selected by the team, as it supports the developed metamodeling strategies and can be implemented in the process controllers developed in WP6. Studies on self-learning metamodeling methodologies and control strategies have been started. Metamodeling will also be applied to the additive manufacturing process, although this was not originally planned.

Sensors concepts have been selected in WP5 “in-line measurement” based on the requirements from WP2. For the AM demonstrator a single pixel OCT with galvo scanner for weld inspection, thermograpy camera and spectrometer have been selected. For MF an in-line 3D OCT sensor, off-line micro-phase fringe projection, in-die bending angle microscope and off-the-shelf sensors have been selected. Breadboards have been developed for all non-off-the-shelf sensors and preliminary results look promising. Calibration strategies have been defined as well. One deliverable, D5.1 “Sensor concept selection & preliminary requirements”, has been delivered according plan.

WP6 “real-time process control” has defined standard definitions in the beginning of the project and designed control system architectures for both demonstrators, according to their individual needs. Control parameters have been selected and prioritized based on interaction studies in close cooperation with WP3. The manufacturing of the control systems has started, hardware and software has been chosen and first tests were successful. Two deliverables, D6.1 “Selected design of closed-loop control” and D6.2 “Control parameters”, have been delivered in this period, as scheduled.

All knowledge and systems developed in above work packages will be integrated and validated in WP7 “Integration and demonstration” in order to demonstrate the chosen approach to reduce defects on both demonstrator lines. The MF demonstrator process has been designed and tooling has been manufactured. First demonstrator products have been produced successfully, both from stainless steel and cupper beryllium. For the AM demonstrator process, the mechanical part of the test rig (powder bed, movable platform, etc.) was reconsidered. It was expected to be designed from scratch. Currently, an existing machine frame is prepared to be used instead to use synergy effects. Help from the machine vendor is available. To avoid the need for many modifications, the sensors and actuators that are included in the MF demonstrator process tool and AM test rig have already been integrated.

WP8 “knowledge management” has delivered its first deliverable D8.1 “Project website”, as scheduled. Dissemination of first project results has been conducted by publications, presentations, lectures, fairs and the project website. The team has accepted the offer from the EC to host an Exploitation Strategy Seminar, which is planned in June 2013, instead of assigning an exploitation manager. Two patent applications are pending and exploitable results have been identified and described. The industrial end-users are exploring first possibilities to use project results in current manufacturing processes.

All work packages are delivering solid results. The project is on schedule and no delay of project results is expected. The development of knowledge and systems will be completed in the next period and integrated and validated on both demonstrator lines. Proof of defect reduction on both demonstrator lines is expected by end of the project in November 2014.

Potential Impact:

MEGaFiT will deliver the following two main results:

1. A methodology to reduce defects by better control of production to improve quality and reduce cost.
2. Reduction of defects from 5-15% to <1% for two pilot production lines. One of the production lines is based on micro-forming, the other one on additive manufacturing of customised parts.

To achieve these main results, the following underlying results will be achieved:

• Modified equipment for real-time in-line process control (>100 parts/minute), including:

o Measurement equipment capable of measuring small details at >100 parts/minute supported by high-detail measurements at lower rate
o Adaptive control software and hardware for multi-step (>3 steps) processes that will adjust the process based on the actual state of the process or equipment
o Actuators for process adjustment

• Re-usable knowledge to reduce future development time and cost:

o Guidelines for applying in-line process control for multi-step (>20 steps) processes
o Knowledge based approach enables flexible manufacturing of customised parts
o Numerical models capturing the process knowledge and underlying physics

• Demonstration of the potential that zero-defect manufacturing can be achieved by the chosen approach. Demonstration will be done on two pilot production lines on micro-forming and additive manufacturing of customised products, to prove the chosen approach for different processes and sectors.

Currently 2 patent applications are pending for in-line measurement systems. Negotiations have already started to commercialise one of the measurement systems. The industrial partners are starting investigations to apply first product results in their production lines (e.g. measurement for quality control, numerical models).

This will ensure competitiveness of European high-tech manufacturing and thereby safeguards related jobs and GDP. Also, waste is strongly reduced, which will make the processes more eco-friendly. The chosen approach transforms resource-based manufacturing to knowledge-based manufacturing, thereby, creating European jobs for high-skilled employees. This, in turn, will strengthen Europe’s position in the knowledge-driven economy.

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