The UTC is researching a number of key areas related to manufacturing jigs and fixturing.
These include minimisation of dynamic response during machining operations, geometric assembly build techniques for improved assembly precision, novel adhesive fixturing approaches for components that are difficult to deterministically locate and clamp, and specialist tooling systems for processing in restricted workspaces.
Additionally, the UTC researches niche manufacturing technologies such as conventional and non-conventional (e.g. waterjetting, laser ablation, electro-discharge) machining supported by in-depth understanding of the workpiece surface integrity aspects of Ni/Ti alloys.
Small scale desktop manufacturing and smart tooling for in-situ machining are a priority area of interest for us.
The design of miniature self-propelled parallel kinematic machine tools and small diameter flexible robotic arms for inspection and repair within restricted space environments are both ongoing projects.
The solutions we develop in this field are driven by originality and scientific understanding of kinematic, static and dynamic needs of these systems.
The main research areas in conventional machining include optimisation of the cutting processes and investigating the critical factors affecting the accuracy and cost of different machining processes. This includes developing new theoretical models and techniques for optimising machining operations and their experimental and industrial validation.
A key area of interest is the development of new fixturing methods for milling and grinding of complex components for prediction of the workpiece-component behaviour and its optimisation.
Main research applications are directed on machining of the next generation Ni/Ti of aerospace materials.
Machining optimisation of difficult-abrasive jet machining is the removal of material using a focused, high velocity jet plume of water and abrasive grits such asgarnet, aluminium oxide or silicon carbide.
Owing to its ability to cut virtually any materials regardless of their mechanical properties, absence of heat affected zones from the surface and it's high versatility, waterjet machining can be utilised for through-cutting, milling, coating removal and even surface treatments such as shot-penning.
Similarly as an energy beam process, pulsed laser ablation is useful in generating full 3D micro-features or functional surfaces in difficult-to-cut materials on which conventional machining processes might not be capable and/or economically viable.
Research on process monitoring and control includes non-linear system identification, intelligent adaptive control. In the non-linear system identification several novel online and offline identification algorithms have been developed as well as the application of neural networks, wavelets and genetic algorithms techniques to the modelling of dynamic non-linear systems. Intelligent adaptive control research has proposed new direct adaptive and predictive neural control methodologies for handling unknown non-linear dynamic systems which have been in industrial projects.
Main research applications include development of novel techniques for detection and prediction of process malfunctions in conventional and non-conventional machining at tool and workpiece surface integrity levels for critical safety components.