Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has given the University of Nottingham an Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) machine, to enable research to take place into the potential use of EDM for coating components used in applications ranging from aerospace to medical devices.
Mitsubishi’s decision to present the machine, valued at £250k, to The University of Nottingham, came about as a result of relationships established with the company by manufacturing research specialist Dr Adam Clare.
Improving the quality of components
EDM is a manufacturing process which enables hard metals to be cut using repeated electrical discharges. This is especially useful for working with complex or very small shapes, for drilling very fine holes and for applying precision coatings onto the metal. EDM processing also has the ability to remove material and apply a coating within the same process, which presents possibilities of improving the quality of the products and the efficiency of the processes.
To support EDM research, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has also provided a grant of nearly £200,000 to enable Adam Clare and his colleagues to investigate EDM technology from a new perspective. The researchers are using existing knowledge about the electrical discharge techniques to create complex multi-layer coatings. The increased understanding about EDM coating techniques is important for enhancing the quality of the metal’s surface and also for aesthetic purposes.
Speaking about the project on a visit to The University of Nottingham, Mr. Noriaki Himi, Group Vice President, for the Industrial Automation Machinery Marketing Division of Misubishi, said: “It is important for us to work with universities, in order to understand the potential of our EDM technologies.
Finding new applications for EDM
“The research work which The University of Nottingham team is undertaking, which examines the ways in which specialist coatings can be applied through EDM, is going to be invaluable for us in helping to explore how industry can benefit from the use of EDM and in finding new applications for this technology in future.”
Last year Dr Clare received the Furusato Award at the Japanese Embassy, in recognition of his work on EDM techniques at the University of Tokyo and Okayama University.
Speaking about the partnership with Mitsubishi, he said: “Although EDM manufacturing is already being used in a number of industries, its full potential is not fully understood.
This is an exciting opportunity for researchers here at the University, to gain a better understanding of the potential applications of electrical discharge machining, and I am very grateful to Mitsubishi for donating this machine to us.”
Specialist advanced manufacturing research
Professor Svetan Ratchev, Director of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at The University of Nottingham, added: “This EDM machine from Mitsubishi is a welcome addition to the great range of research equipment we have here at the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing.
"A number of companies have already shown great interest in the EDM technology and how it can potentially be used to improve components manufacture in their industry. We always welcome enquiries from any businesses that are interested in exploring the potential of EDM including applications of specialist coatings.”
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