Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FLEXFORM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 628055
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: United Kingdom
Domain: Fundamental Research , Industry, Environment, Information and communication technology

Advanced, flexible approach for rapid sheet-forming technologies

An EU initiative introduced an innovative sheet-forming process in order to quickly manufacture sheet metal parts.
Advanced, flexible approach for rapid sheet-forming technologies
Developing environment-friendly and sustainable manufacturing technologies has become a driving force to maximise resource efficiency and reduce energy consumption and environmental pollution of traditional metal-forming processes that use heavy machinery and expensive tools. With increasing global competition, it is vital for European manufacturers to develop core competencies in future advanced manufacturing technologies.

With EU funding, the FLEXFORM (Novel flexible sheet forming for high value manufacturing) project sought to develop a new flexible sheet-forming method to support sustainable technologies in the rapid manufacturing of small-batch and customised sheet metal parts with reduced costs and lead time.

Specifically, project partners developed a novel process concept, namely a laser-assisted double-side incremental forming using water jet (DSIF-WJ). They also designed and manufactured prototype machines and dedicated tool designs. These include a prototype to validate incremental sheet forming (ISF) with WJ, a hybrid prototype for conducting both ISF and spinning processes, as well as conventional, single and double offset tools.

Researchers successfully demonstrated the flexibility of the proposed technologies based on ISF. ISF is a highly versatile and flexible process for rapid manufacturing of complex sheet metal parts. They focused on studying the development of several variations of the ISF processes, including ISF with WJ, hybrid spinning and ISF, DSIF, electrical-assisted DSIF, vibration-assisted incremental forming, and hybrid stretching and ISF.

FLEXFORM showed that DSIF-WJ is a good alternative to conventional sheet-forming processes in manufacturing small-batch or customised sheet components. It demonstrated the feasibility of flexible sheet-forming technologies for industrial applications, particularly in the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors. Project outcomes also have the potential to strengthen the technical capacity and competitiveness of European manufacturers and SMEs in high value added and user-driven production, enabling them to meet future sustainable manufacturing challenges.

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Sheet forming, sheet metal parts, manufacturing, FLEXFORM, double-side incremental forming
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