Flexible Manufacturing of Double-Curved Sheet Metal Panels for the Realization of Self-Supporting Freeform Structures
Product development is complex due to the manifold requirements resulting from various perspectives, such as design, production, safety and sales. A concurrent engineering (CE) approach permits to respect all perspectives in the early development stage. However, in the architecture and construction sector for example, CE is particularly difficult to realize, because the central steering for this collaboration process is missing. Thus, the application of CE in the research sector can promote technical progress and cost reduction. In the specific field of freeform architecture, in most cases an individual shape of single components is unavoidable and the use of standard components impossible. Due to missing universal and mature construction concepts for freeform buildings, they are mostly realized with customized solutions often including material-consuming substructures, while the visible skin has only limited structural and functional properties.In this context the present paper proposes a novel universal panel system made of double-curved sheet metal layers enabling the assembly of self-supporting lightweight structures for the realization of freeform surfaces. The panel system has been developed in cooperation of architects, construction and production engineers, successfully applying an interdisciplinary CE approach. As a result, the concept allows for material and cost efficient solutions applicable for a wide range of freeform applications. The detailed development of the panel system is still in progress.Besides the general panel concept, the paper presents in particular the corresponding manufacturing chain and the tooling concept. Accounting for the varying part geometries in this application a flexible manufacturing chain based on the combination of stretch forming and incremental sheet forming has been developed. The entire production process is implemented in a single machine setup and successfully tested on a small-scale prototype.
M. Merklein, J. Duflou, A. Leacock, F. Micari and H. Hagenah
D. Bailly et al., "Flexible Manufacturing of Double-Curved Sheet Metal Panels for the Realization of Self-Supporting Freeform Structures", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 639, pp. 41-48, 2015