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SCULPTOR — Result In Brief

Project ID: 14026
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Spain

Metal sheets about to get better

Generally, metal sheets are costly to produce and process. A new approach that produces metal sheets on demand as well as being environmentally friendly may soon see light of day.
Metal sheets about to get better
The aeronautic and automotive industries, among others, consume enormous amounts of sheet metal based on large, costly processes. The EU-funded project 'Sustainable and smart shaping process for radial innovation in European metal forming manufacturing' (Sculptor) worked on fast, flexible and eco-friendly forming technology for sheet metal. The new approach aimed at saving thousands of millions of euros for the European market, as well as softening the impact on the environment.

The project investigated how to meet the needs of the market by producing and forming on demand, through a new production process. Key to this technology, and differentiating it from conventional stamping and deep drawing processes, is a new incremental sheet forming technique (ISF). This approach is considered much cleaner and much more affordable.

The process helps cut out or eliminate dyes and uses a standard milling machine or a robot. As such, ISF costs only 90 to 95 % less than conventional stamping processes, using what Sculptor has dubbed 'support dyes' instead of regular dye equipment. However, there are still challenges to developing the technology quickly as support dyes are not readily available and the system needs to be fine tuned as some components still lack geometrical accuracy and uniform thickness.

Nonetheless, much progress has been made in this area. The project created two prototypes to produce basic shapes as well as prototypes for sensory forming tools, all of which have been successfully tested.

Sculptor also worked on the methodology for ISF, and has paved the way for future projects to overcome obstacles and challenges. If and when this happens, industries that use metal sheets may become leaner, cleaner and more efficient.

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