A New Incremental Sheet Forming Process Based on a Flexible Supporting Die System
Nowadays many industrial sectors use forming processes in order to produce sheet metal components. The most widely used processes are stamping and deep drawing, which are based on big, costly dies and presses. These processes require large initial investment and specific dies for each part, which makes them inflexible and only profitable for large batches. A possible approach to small series production is based on the incremental sheet forming technique (ISF), which consists of a gradual plastic deformation of flat sheet metal by the action of a CNC controlled tool. Equipment such as a 3-axis milling machine can be used for ISF, such that the initial investment costs in ISF are around 5-10% of those required to set up a production line for conventional stamping. In its current stage of development, dedicated dies are often used as support tools in ISF. However, due to the fact that the forming forces are low in ISF, the dies can be made out of cheap materials like resin or wood. Although this is an additional advantage over stamping, the need to use additional tools still reduces the flexibility of the process. The present paper details the concept of a truly “dieless” incremental forming process. In the framework of the SCULPTOR EU project, the authors are working on an innovative concept of incremental sheet metal forming which is based on the replacement of the commonly used dies by a second forming tool which moves in a coordinated way with the first forming tool, thus creating a flexible die system, which does not depend on the specific geometry of the part to be formed. The present work summarizes the results obtained up to now in two fields: (i) the development of a prototype for the flexible die system to be included both in milling machines or combined with robots and (ii) process modelling to improve the understanding of the process.
F. Micari, M. Geiger, J. Duflou, B. Shirvani, R. Clarke, R. Di Lorenzo and L. Fratini
E. Maidagan et al., "A New Incremental Sheet Forming Process Based on a Flexible Supporting Die System", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 344, pp. 607-614, 2007