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Ultrasonic impact microforming (UIM) tool system

The UIM Tool System may be classified in the category of the incremental sheet metal forming tools, in a similar manner as the IRM and PIM Tool Systems would be. There are, however, some similarities and important differences between these three systems. Similarities are that this Tool System operates on the MACHMINI Machine using a common die: it may be used to produce prototypes or small-batch quantities or for the conversion of semi-finished miniature components prepared using chemical etching or electrical-discharge slotting. The differences are in the method of operation - the IRM and PIM are static/semi-static tool systems, whereas the UIM system operates at ultrasonic frequency.

The forming tool contained in the UIM Tool System is fixed to the punch holder, which is excited by the ultrasonic transducer driven using the signals delivered from the ultrasonic generator. The ultrasonic transducer, booster and punch holder (together with the punch) are fixed to the z-drive of the MACHMINI Machine, to facilitate vertical displacement. The tools vibrate at approximately 20kHz and the amplitude of vibration may be adjusted in the range of 4 -10m. The desired operating condition is that the forming tool retains the pre-operational settings.

The Tool System may be operated in different modes. It can be lowered to form a dimple on the miniature material in a sequence to form a series of dimples in a prescribed pattern and to differing depths. The forming tool may also be lowered to a prescribed position to form an impression after which it may be translated to produce a groove. Further, the forming tool may be used to produce drawn sections by progressively indexing the tool into the work-material held over a die-cavity, while the die-cavity is rotated; by these movements, the work-material is incrementally deformed to from the drawn section.

The UIM method can be used not only for sheet metal forming but also for bulk metal forming. It is possible to produce swallow indentations on surfaces of thick components and to flatten thin wires in a prescribed sequence and pattern.

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University of Strathclyde
75 Montrose Street
G1 1XQ Glasgow
United Kingdom
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