by Eric Lanke
The second workshop of the Fluid Power Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (FPAMC) was held in March 2016, and continued to make progress on the creation of a detailed manufacturing roadmap for the fluid power industry. An earlier workshop had identified eight technology areas for further exploration, and the second workshop deep-dived into many of them, including:
- Coatings to improve performance (durability, enhanced load bearing, etc.)
- Real-time in-process sensing, feedback, and control
- New (disruptive) materials and their processing
- Manufacturing-inspired design (leverage new process into designs)
- Integrated, batch-free heat treating
- Additive manufacturing (direct metal, etc.)
- Robotics for assembly and manufacturing
I participated in a breakout session on additive manufacturing, which was quickly broadened to encompass hybrid manufacturing (combining both additive and subtractive techniques to bring about the best outcomes for fluid power products). Our first task was to identify the potential benefits that could be recognized through wider adoption of these techniques. Our list included:
- Reduced cost of components (tooling, piece price, lead time, life cycle/maintenance)
- Increased performance of components
- Integrated components (resulting in simplified control systems, ability to embed sensors with components)
- Variable material properties within one component (to enhance performance and reduce mass)
- Integrated fluid channels
- Corrosion and wear resistance
Our next step was to identify the risks and barriers to the wider adoption of this technology. There are many, including:
- Lack of design optimization tools
- Benefits apply to specific parts and processes (not universal)
- Unknown cost/benefit ratios
- Availability/cost of additive materials
- Need to classify material characteristics
- Need new, complex and secure control systems
- Lack of skilled operators for new machines/processes
- New facilities/infrastructures needed
- Cost of entry for small/medium-sized businesses
Finally, harmonizing the benefits with the barriers, we needed to propose and prioritize a set of technology innovations that could help the industry better adopt and benefit from hybrid manufacturing. Our list included:
- Identify and test hybrid manufacturing for fluid power products that pass a cost/benefit, business-case analysis.
- Educate the designer/create design tools for hybrid manufacturing.
- Analyze material science and validate hybrid-manufactured products.
- Integrate lasers for inspection, heat treating, welding/brazing, cutting, cladding, etc.
- Develop methods for in process stress relief, flaw detection/correction, surface prep/finishing/cleaning, etc.
- Integrate sensors and intelligent technologies/materials into the component manufacturing process.
- Develop one machine does that repair, remanufacture and new manufacture (requires innovations in creative fixturing, part location, etc.).
It is technology innovations like these—and those from the other breakout sessions—that will comprise the final manufacturing roadmap. The goal is to identify projects that can attract research funding and help advance the manufacturing effectiveness and efficiency of the fluid power industry. A draft of the final document is expected later this year, and will be circulated widely for comment.
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