The objective of the MANUCLOUD experiment is to link process and product modelling of sheet material products and in doing so closing the loop between manufacturing and product performance. This enables the full exploitation of the lightweight potential of such sheet material products, minimizing the risk of failures and reducing development time and costs by avoiding “trial and error” approaches. To this aim an adaptive process control approach to embed product modeling in the manufacturing process will be implemented and tested thanks to two key enabling technologies: ensemble modeling from Noesis and CloudFlow infrastructure.
The continuous improvement of manufacturing processes and the trends towards zero defect manufacturing are one of the pillars of the challenges of the Factories of the Future Programme. The sheet metal forming, represent a huge market within the European Manufacturing Industry and the deployment of smart design and manufacturing tools that actually reduce the defect rates means important savings in terms of materials and energy wastes.
In general, a great deal of effort is devoted to the design and production of reliable tooling, which requires extensive knowledge and experience of design, material, and process engineers. It often takes trial and error measures to arrive at acceptable tooling quality and manufacturing process that produce working parts. Afterwards, once the production begins, constant adjustments are needed, reworking of the molds and readjusting of the process parameters to keep a high quality production with a low level of defects.
Within the sheet metal stamping industry, Borit is a market leader in the production of metallic bipolar plates for hydrogen cells and other electrical applications. Most common technologies for production of metallic bipolar plates are deep drawing, hydroforming, etching and powder sintering (for SOFC technology). The consortium partner BORIT developed a new forming technology “H_y_d_r_o_g_a_t_e_” based on hydroforming. By using a special proprietary press technology it is possible to form plates directly from coil with short cycle times and low tooling- & set-up costs. In this way, for low volume productions the price per plate is significantly lower than with deep drawing3, but also for large production volumes the economic disadvantages of traditional hydroforming with respect to series production are removed keeping the other advantages of hydroforming. These technical advantages result also in better electrical properties per plate (energy density of the resulting hydrogen cells) which in turn may lead to less bipolar plates per stack and reduced stack construction time & cost.