Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - DESPROCH (Design of a semi-hot process chain)

Customer demands are rising with regard to higher accuracy of manufacturing, surface quality and use of material. It is up to the forges to respond to these pressures. Therefore, it is necessary to support the European forging industry by the optimisation of production technologies.

Semi-hot or warm forging is an economical alternative to the conventional forging technology. It offers several advantages that contribute to economic, environmental and social issues. These are reduced energy input, no scale, better surface quality and closer tolerances. It has been successfully used in the production of rotationally symmetric components so far. Components in which one axis is several times longer than the others cannot be manufactured with this process by now.

The main goal of the DESPROCH project was to establish a basis for the set-up of complete, reliable and flexible process chains for the semi-hot forging of long parts. It began with the feeding of raw material and ended with the output of finished and cooled parts. This was realised in the supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a process with low production costs and high process quality and guaranteed an optimal use of the project results.

The main objectives of the project were to develop a new production process for longitudinal work pieces to increase product and production quality, save on materials and shorten production time. Further objectives were the improvement of working conditions as well as an increase of professional skills and enrichment of operator tasks and a reduction of the environmental impact.

The consortium of the project comprises four SMEs and two research and technological development (RTD) performers. Each partner participated in work packages (WPs) he or she could contribute knowledge to and/or could establish guidelines.

In the first phase the consortium compiled a specification sheet with the requirements for the finished products and for the process based on existing production technology data and considering the technological and economical requirements.

The second phase of the project dealt with the development of the pilot product and its forming steps. The selected forging geometries were adapted to the technology of semi-hot forging and constructed using modern computer-aided design (CAD) equipment. Applicable forming sequences for forging were evaluated, verified and optimised using finite-element-analysis for material flow simulation.

Since the requirements on the process chain are identical for the alternative forming sequences for each product, phase three was already started, where all issues regarding the process are examined. Different tasks deal with the exploration of production strategies and technologies using the results obtained in phase two. Phase three was divided into two parallel tasks: the development and manufacture of the necessary tools and the design and layout of the process chain.

In phase four, the whole production line was put into operation and the developed processes were tested and improved in an iterative way. Finally, an experimental plan was set up and the results of the in process measurements and the work piece properties has been documented.

Together with the in-process recorded data and based on statistical methods, correlations have been identified and specifications for quality assurance have been derived. In the fifth and last WP all results were summarised in guidelines for the choice of equipment for warm forging processes and the design of warm forming processes.

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